International trade minister Ed Fast says the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between Canada and China won’t be ratified right away, since he and prime minister Stephen Harper are heading off to Asia.
The purpose of the agreement is to protect investors in the foreign country from discrimination and give a forum to handle disputes.
The Abbotsford MP tells us this gives Canadian investors protection that never used to exist.
“They were at the whims of the Chinese legal and regulatory systems, both of which are quite opaque. This agreement will now bring into place a clear set of rules under which investments are made in China and a clear set of rules under which if there are disputes, those disputes are resolved.”
The problem, according to many people, is that because China invests in Canada a lot more than we invest over there, Canada assumes most of the risk. The agreement has a load of critics, including several who claim protecting Chinese investors’ interests would come at the expense of First Nations rights.
Fast says any issues concerning aboriginal rights are exempt from the agreement.
At a fundraiser last night, Chilliwack Hope NDP MLA Gwen O Mahony says there are a number of things to consider in these trade agreements and she wonders if the Conservatives have.
“I’m very concerned about it, in particular when we’re thinking about the pipeline issues. I just had protesters that came to my office last week and quite a few of them said they think the root of the problem is FIPA.”
Opponents say under the agreement, Canada is obliged to protect investor rights, and might have a hard time altering something like the pipeline if China decides it will cut into their expected revenue.
There have been many complaints that there has been no debate on the biggest trade deal since NAFTA, but Fast says there was a 21 day tabling period, and the NDP had 4 different opportunities to debate the issue, which they declined. The NDP is not buying that, as FIPA is part of the Tories giant omnibus bill. People are also outraged that the Prime Minister signed off on the deal in Russia on September 9th, but it wasn’t made public until the 26th. Ottawa has received over 60,000 letters of opposition to the agreement, which many call “a bad deal” for Canada.
For more information on FIPA this article in the Ottawa Citizen does a pretty good job explaining it.