Parliament supports CETA in first reading

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On February 9 the Latvian parliament supported ratifying the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with 71 votes 'for', 8 'against' and one abstention.

During the debate, opposition MPs stressed that it is still unclear what pros and cons the agreement has as concerns Latvia. Jūlija Stepaņenko (Harmony) said that research should be carried out over the agreement's effect on Latvia's economy, business environment and consumers' rights over the long-term.

While Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš (Unity) said that 99.5% of customs duties will be lifted upon ratifying the treaty. CETA would also allow EU companies to take part in federal and municipal public contracts in Canada. It would also allow for the mutual recognition of some qualifications and improve rules for protecting investments.

"It will be a positive signal and a acknowledgment of partnership to Canada," said Kalniņš, pointing that Latvia should ratify CETA as Canada has taken the leading role in deploying multi-national battle groups in Latvia. 

"Ratifying CETA is in Latvia's interests," said Kalniņš.

There are 95 Latvian companies exporting to Canada, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Parliamentary Secretary at the Foreign Ministry said previously.

The treaty is yet to be supported by national parliaments and the European Parliament, where it is to be put to vote on February 15.

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