33 attendees participated in the dinner at the Mercure Riga Centre Hotel on January 14, 2016 at 18.30 for the first CanCham event of 2016 which focused on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Canada/European Union free trade agreement. See  Participants of note apart from the guest speaker, Artis Pabriks, included H.E. Alain Hausser, Canadian Government Ambassador to Latvia and Honorary Chairman for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Latvia, and Irena Cirule, Commercial Officer, Canadian Embassy in Latvia. Valters Kronbergs fulfilled MC duties on behalf of the CanCham board.

For pictures from the event, please see
Artis Pabriks (Unity) is the European Parliament Member appointed as the EP's chief rapporteur on the EU-Canada free-trade agreement (CETA). He presented a concise overview of the agreement and provided candid comments regarding its implementation. Some of the main factors to note include:
  • CETA could be ratified by the end of 2016 or early 2017,
  • CETA is the first comprehensive international trade agreement in that it eliminates almost all trade barriers and bureaucracy associated with the sale of goods and services,
  • CETA is particularly significant to small and medium businesses as it not only eliminates most tariffs, but it also simplifies procedures that smaller companies have not been able to afford to deal with in the past to enter these markets. This is particularly important for Latvia.
  • CETA provides a decided advantage to establishing business with Canada over the United States of America, since the US/EU free trade agreement is still in the negotiation stage.
  • Since Canada has a population of 35 million and the EU – 500 million, Canada will be looking to the EU as a potential major market. Latvia offers not only entry into the EU, but is also a natural bridge into Russia and CIS countries. Since small and medium business are an inherent component of the Canadian economic landscape, partnering with Latvian business can be an attractive proposition.
  • It must be remembered that Canada is also part of the North American free trade zone, and a member of the Asia-Pacific free trade zone. This gives Canadian entrepreneurs a choice for which direction to go. Though having common values with Canada, the EU must still work to attract Canadian attention.


Ed Kalvins announced the following:

1. The introduction of the new CanCham programs

  • Partnership for Profit - to develop business opportunities for members. 
  • Governance – to consider actions to be taken to deal with troublesome government laws, regulations and/or practices. 

These programs are based on the active participation of CanCham members. Work groups will be set up by the end of February.

2. The following events are in the planning stages:

  • January 27th, Wednesday – first team meeting for Partnership for Profit program – by invitation.
  • February 25th, Thursday - Partnering for Profit program: Presentation and panel discussions at the Mercure Riga Centre Hotel specifically designed to prepare members for partnering with Canadian and other foreign companies, preparing for CETA, and developing business opportunities amongst themselves.
  • March - Partnering for Profit program: Presentation and panel discussions focusing on development projects, innovations, financing instruments, investments and attracting strategic partners.
  • April 12th, Tuesday, - Kristian Kjernsmo of Circle-K / Statoil Fuel & Retail will be presenting the Statoil re-branding and speaking on other related issues. 
  • July 1st , Wednesday, Canada Day 


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