Latvia Becomes First EU Member State to Approve CETA
The Latvian parliament ratified the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) last week, making the Baltic country the first of the EU’s member states to do so on an individual basis.
The move was welcomed by Canadian officials, with Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne stating in a news release that his country “commends Latvia’s leadership on being the first to ratify this ground-breaking trade agreement.”
“The successful passing of CETA in Latvia is an important step on the road to full ratification of an agreement that will bring prosperity to the middle class and those working hard to join it across Europe and Canada,” he added.
The head of the Saeima Foreign Affairs Commission, Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš, described CETA as "one of the most progressive and modern agreements that has been drawn up," according to Latvia's public broadcaster. Saeima is the name of the Latvian parliament.
CETA was approved by the European Parliament in mid-February, when it received the endorsement of the 751-member legislative body by a large majority. The approval will enable the two sides to apply the accord on a provisional level after Canada completes its own legislative processes. (See Bridges Weekly, 16 February 2017)
On goods-related trade, the accord is due to eliminate duties on over 99 percent of industrial products for both sides. Proponents say this could particularly facilitate the entry of Canadian exports to the Baltic EU country, especially in areas such as information and communication technologies, electrical products, and machinery and equipment.
Latvian officials have similarly noted the potential gains from slashing tariffs, as well as from liberalising services trade further, with a press release from the Saeima flagging the sectors of finance, telecommunications, marine transport, and environment. The Latvian parliament also referred to CETA’s improvements in public procurement market access.
Goods exports from Canada to Latvia reached C$224.1 million (US$168 million) in 2016, according to Canadian government figures, while Canadian-bound imports from Latvia last year were C$36.6 million (US$27.4 million).
With Latvia’s sign-off now secured, the agreement will still need to face ratification by the remaining EU national – and in some cases regional – legislatures for full entry into force.
For its part, Canada is making progress with CETA approval domestically, so that it may be provisionally applied as soon as possible. The House of Commons has approved Bill C-30, the CETA Implementation Act, and the bill has been introduced in the Senate, which completed its second “reading” on the subject this week.
ICTSD reporting; “Latvia becomes 1st EU country to sign on to Canada's trade deal,” CBC NEWS, 23 February 2017; “Latvia first to ratify Canada-EU trade deal,” PUBLIC BROADCASTING OF LATVIA, 23 February 2017.