Federal government ratifies controversial FIPA agreement with China

FIPA | BCBusiness
China is B.C.’s second largest trading partner.

The investment promotion and protection act will come into effect October 1, over two years after it was signed

The federal government has ratified its foreign investment treaty with China, confirmed International
Trade Minister Ed Fast on Friday. Known as FIPA, the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, clarifies the investment rules for Chinese companies investing in Canada.

“This kind of package is overdue,” said Wendy Dobson, associate professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, in an e-mail prior to the announcement. “[It will] help to change expectations and to set the economic relationship on a more productive trajectory.”

Fast echoed the sentiment: “Investment agreements provide the protection and the confidence Canadian investors need to expand, grow and succeed abroad,” he said in a statement. According to Fast, FIPA will provide a “more predictable and transparent business environment.”
signed in September 2012 by Stephen Harper and Chinese president Xi Jinping, FIPA will come into effect October 1, China’s national holiday.

The treaty—which will safeguard Chinese investments in Canada, and vice-versa—is one of the most important pillars of ties between the two countries, says Kenny Zhang, a senior fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Zhang expects the new rules have to have a ‘real impact’ on the way that Chinese companies conduct business in Canada.

The federal NDP has been critical of the long-delayed ratification of the deal, which they’ve characterized as ‘badly one-sided’. “In effect, it will give China access to, and control over, some of Canada’s natural resources for the next 31 years, and subject Canadian taxpayers to enormous liabilities through investor lawsuits,” said NDP trade critic and Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies, in a release.