Where it all started…
On 19-20 January 1998, business leaders met at the Baltic Sea Business Summit and adopted the Memorandum on Growth and Development in the Baltic Sea Region. One of its recommendations was to create forums in the region for exchange of information between business communities and governments to bring various general problems that affect businesses in Latvia to the government’s attention. The foreign companies that operate in Latvia could draw on experiences from their operations in other countries and thus share and exchange views in an international perspective.
Foreign Investors Council was established in Latvia
This was announced in Riga on January 27, 1999 in the presence of Latvian Prime Minister Mr. Vilis Krištopans and in a statement the same day by Mr. Jukka Härmälä, President of Stora Enso and the business co-chairman of the Foreign Investors Council in Latvia (FICIL).
In the beginning the following companies made up the council:
Soon after the first 5 ad hoc groups were established to further discuss and study certain problem areas: Tax/Legal, Skilled Labour, Transport and Logistics, Finance, Crime and Corruption.
The first High Council meeting among the investors and the government of Latvia took place in 1 June 1999. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister Mr. Vilis Krištopans and Stora Enso board chairman Jukka Härmälä from Finland. The issues discussed included the skilled labour force, tax system, the legislative environment, transportinfrastructure, customs, development of the financial sector and the reduction of administrative barriers to investment. These issues were followed up in the upcoming High Council meetings that took place every 6 months in the early years of FICIL.
The day-to-day work of the council was done by the Preparatory Committee. It met regularly to discuss issues to be placed on the agenda of the top-level meetings. It was represented by local manages of 15 foreign companies, 4 foreign trade associations, a secretary and the chairman, Mr. Monty Åkesson.