Liberals demand a public debate on the Canada-China FIPA

Liberals demand a public debate on the Canada-China FIPA

Postby Oscar » Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:32 am

Liberals demand a public debate on the Canada-China FIPA

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:42 AM
Subject: Liberals demand a public debate on the Canada-China FIPA

On behalf of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, I would like to thank you for your email regarding the Canada – China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA).

The Liberal Party of Canada believes that foreign investment is good for our economy, but we must always work to protect Canadian interests and the interests of Canadians. The Harper government’s approach appears to be that by “signing” trade agreements with virtually any willing country, it somehow translates into a trade strategy. This is simply not the case, and we must ensure that any international trade agreement that Canada signs will be of net benefit to Canadians.

In order to attract foreign investment to Canada, both domestic and international business communities need to know that the investment rules in Canada are clear and that business deals must adhere to these guidelines rather than be subject to the political whims of the government of the day. As well, Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPA) are important for Canadians investing abroad as well as businesses here at home.

China is rapidly growing into a dominant global player, and is Canada’s second largest trading partner. China is also a centralized economy and operates state-owned enterprises for unfair advantage.

The Liberal Party does acknowledge that there are concerns with this agreement. It is clear that the Canada-China FIPA is different from previous ones that the Conservative government has signed, but we believe that the agreement needs to be improved, not completely discarded. Liberals have raised concerns about provisions of this agreement, particularly on the issues of transparency during arbitration, termination of the agreement, and the length of time the agreement is in force.

But we also see benefits. For example, Canadian companies will be able to resolve disputes outside of the Chinese courts, in independent arbitration tribunals, and beyond that, China commits to treating fairly any Canadian companies investing in China. These company level benefits reduce business uncertainty and encourage the economy level benefits that can come from mutual foreign investment.

The motion that the NDP presented in the House of Commons on April 18, 2013 called for an outright rejection of the Canada-China FIPA and that is something that we cannot support.

The only way for the Canadian people to properly weigh the pros and cons is to have public scrutiny and debate, and the right place to have that is in a House of Commons committee. This is the reasoning behind the Liberal Party position on Canada-China FIPA, and that is why we did not support the outright rejection of FIPA embodied in the NDP Opposition motion.

The Liberal Party continues to call on the government to have public hearings on the implications of this agreement so that Canadians can have their say. Regrettably, the Harper Conservatives refused to defend their agreement to the Canadian public and have blocked discussion on it. On April 18, the Liberal Party presented a motion in the House of Commons calling for the International Trade committee to conduct public hearings across Canada prior to the ratification of the Canada-China FIPA to ensure that the agreement is in the best interests of all Canadians.

Regrettably, the NDP joined with the Conservatives and opposed this Liberal amendment calling for public hearings, which sought to allow discussion of the investment agreement to occur across Canada. These hearings would have given Canadian voices like yours a chance to be heard.

The Conservatives and the NDP are silencing Canadians and fueling the misinformation and fear-mongering surrounding the agreement. The role foreign investment plays in the Canadian economy will remain hugely important going forward. This does not, however, detract in any way from the serious need for Parliament to fulfill its obligation to seek input from Canadians. The Conservatives and NDP must guarantee that this investment agreement with the world’s second largest economy is widely supported and will result in a clear net benefit for Canadian families.

FIPA marks a significant step in our trade relationship with China, and it is important that we have a discussion on the concerns raised by Canadians about issues of transparency, the arbitration process, and the role of state-owned enterprises in our trade relationship.

Thank you for writing to the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Yours sincerely,

Colin McKone
Office of the Liberal Leader
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