Recently, I have received a number of inquiries regarding the China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act.
Let me begin by stating that Canada’s number-one responsibility is to Canadians. The Canada-China Treaty and Protection Agreement (and similar agreements) provides policy framework that protects not only foreign investment interests, but also protects the investments Canadians have made in those same endeavours.
Foreign trade and investment is an important part of Canada’s national and international economic policy. Large trading partners, like China, offer great resources in terms of investment. Canada’s economy benefits greatly from these resources; jobs get created, businesses are able to grow, and we are able to continue our goal of ensuring Canada’s future in our world.
Our government is committed to ensuring that Canadian values are held to the highest standard. The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act does not offer circumvention of environmental protocols and safeguards. It does not circumvent our federal labour laws. It also does not increase Canada’s potential financial liability, as has been reported.
In Yukon, it does not detract from legislation that already exists, such as the Environment Act, Waters Act, Land Use Regulation, Heritage River Systems, Territorial and National Parks, Protected Areas, YESAB Process, Yukon Water Board, First Nation Settlement Lands, Intergovernmental Agreements Act, Fisheries Act, etc.
Since 2006, our government has finalized similar agreements with 14 different countries, and are actively negotiating with 12 others. The Canada-China agreement is very similar to the other agreements that Canada is a party to. It contains all of the core substantive obligations that are standard in our other agreements.
Contrary to reports that this trade pact is being signed “behind closed doors,” the Canada-China agreement was tabled openly in the House of Commons on Sept. 26, 2012. This reflects our government’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
With regards to investor-state dispute settlement, it is Canada’s long-standing policy to permit public access to such proceedings. Canada’s agreement with China is no different. As we do with all other investor-to-state disputes, this agreement allows Canada to make all documents submitted to an arbitral tribunal available to the public. All decisions of the tribunal will be made public.
Ultimately, access to international arbitration will provide Canadian investors with the confidence that comes from recourse to an independent, international body to adjudicate any disputes. It is also important to note that under this treaty, both Canada and China have the right to regulate in the public interest.
At the same time, Chinese investment in Canada will continue to be subject to the Investment Canada Act for both the net benefit test for acquisitions above the applicable threshold and for national security concerns with respect to any investment. Decisions by Canada under the Investment Canada Act are excluded from challenge under the provisions of the agreement.
The Opposition has incorrectly stated that a 15-year notice period is required to end the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China as opposed to six months or a year with respect to the termination of similar agreements. This is wrong. The agreement is a 15-year agreement, after which one year’s notice is required to pull out of the agreement. This notice period is standard with Canada’s other Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.
Thank you for bringing your concerns forward to me, and should you have further questions about this, or any other topic, please feel free to contact my office.
Yukon member of Parliament