Ukraine is liberalizing the market rail and ferry transport services Georgia. This is the essence of an agreement that the two countries signed in Batumi on 13 September.
According to Oksana Reiter, the head of the department of external relations at the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice, the new agreement makes no provision for designated carriers. The document still requires parliamentary ratification before it can come into effect.
As reported, under the agreement on rail and ferry services between the ports of Varna (Bulgaria), Poti/Batumi (Georgia), and the Black Sea that was signed in 2000, the Bulgarian Maritime Fleet shipping line and the Ukrainian shipping company Ukrferry were designated as the carriers on this route. Consequently, only these two shipping companies currently perform regular direct cargo transportation by sea between the Black Sea, Varna, Poti, and Batumi.
However, in the abovementioned agreement stipulates that the route is also served by the Ukrzaliznytsia public railway company, the Bulgarian Railways, the Georgian Rail Transport Department, and the relevant port enterprises (the Illichivsk Commercial Seaport in Ukraine).
Therefore, Ukrzaliznytsia may also enter the ferry market. Two ferries previously leased by Ukrferry were returned to the company at the end of 2015. However, the vessels are in need of repair. Once the repair is completed, the ferries will be operated by the Liski Transport Service Center, which is part of Ukrzaliznytsia.