On 15 September 2021, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness of France, Franck Riester, was in Latvia on a visit. The Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa, and the Minister Delegate discussed potential areas for cooperation between Latvia and France in economy and in the context of the European Union (EU).
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica praised the excellent relations between Latvia and France, with an emphasis on a symbolic milestone in the Latvian-French relations – the 30th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties. This year also marks the centenary since France recognised Latvia de jure.
The Parliamentary Secretary underlined that Latvia wants to maintain a political dialogue with France at all levels, develop bilateral cooperation projects, and strengthen cooperation between the two countries on EU policies.
The officials devoted particular attention to topical issues in EU trade policy and plans for the French Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2022. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica welcomed the EU’s strategy for a future trade policy, referring in particular to positive developments in the EU-US trade relations. The Parliamentary Secretary expressed hope that constructive cooperation in the new format of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council would yield practical results.
One of common priorities for Latvia and France is the advancement of the reform agenda in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Our companies need a rules-based global system of international trade, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined, adding that therefore the WTO reform should work, as a priority, on resuming of the functioning of the Appellate Body.
To further highlight Latvia’s priorities, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica pointed out that the EU must reinforce its positions vis à vis China so as to balance out economic relations. The Parliamentary Secretary agreed with the French minister that we should be less naïve in our relations with China.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica rated highly the economic forum organised by the French Association of Large Companies and the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, which provided an opportunity for businesses to learn about possible lines of cooperation in the sectors of smart cities, digital economy and military defence and security. The Parliamentary Secretary drew attention to the attractive investment environment in Latvia and invited France to consider a closer cooperation.