CETA gives high hopes for Latvian IT sector

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Business organizations are positive over the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), saying that the Canadian market is large but hitherto unknown to Latvian entrepreneurs. 

Currently Canada - the world's 10th largest economy - is just the 42nd-largest trade partner for Latvia.

This means that there's huge potential for cooperation, said the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LTRK) and the Employers Confederation (LDDK) during the Foreign Affairs Committee debates at the Latvian parliament on February 15.

Latvia exports goods and services worth €18m to Canada annually and imports €9m, said Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Latvian Foreign Ministry's Parliamentary State Secretary.

While LTRK and LDDK said that it's worth entering Canada's market as there's uncertainty over US foreign policy and economic state, making Canada a good alternative.

Latvia's IT sector might be the industry to make the most out of CETA if it's ratified, and Canada could also serve a base for entering the US market.

"The lifting of tariffs, of course, provides quick support to companies that are already actively working in the North American market," said Alga Ilmeja, head of the Latvian IT Cluster. 

"It is more related to software development, as well as telecoms and electronics. However small and mid-sized companies working in niche areas have expressed their interest in the Canadian market. The business culture and environment are understandable [to them]," said Ilmeja.

"The Canadian market is seen as a platform for making it into the US, which might be a bit more complicated. We're hopeful about this agreement," she said.

Currently Latvia's overseas sales to Canada make up less than 1% of total exports.

As reported, Latvia supported adopting the Canada-EU trade agreement in the first reading. 

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