Political crisis stalls car sales to Russia; pile-up at Finnish port

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Thousands of cars remain at a standstill at the Kotka-Hamina port due to lack of demand in Russia. (Yle)
Thousands of cars remain at a standstill at the Kotka-Hamina port due to lack of demand in Russia. (Yle)
The crisis involving Ukraine and Russia has weakened the ruble and dampened the Russian appetite for imported cars.

As a result the Kotka-Hamina port has seen a pile-up of new cars with no buyers in the formerly vehicle-hungry eastern neighbor.

The trade in new cars to Russia has decelerated considerably in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia political crisis and the resulting weakening of the ruble, says Kimmo Naski, harbor master of the Kotka-Hamina port in southeast Finland.

The slowdown in the cross-border vehicle trade has caused a backlog of new vehicles crowding the harbor parking area. The brake in demand has coincided with a constant influx of new cars into Finland from locations such as Germany and the Far East, the port chief said.

Usually some 100,000 vehicles bound for Russia pass through the Kotka-Hamina port annually – that figure has remained constant for 5 – 6 years, port authorities added.

The last time the parking area was as full of cars was before the financial downturn in 2008, they add. And just a few years ago, the area was almost empty as imported cars rapidly transited through Finland to new owners in Russia.

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