A crucial Canada-China investment agreement is closing in on its date of commencement. This deal will probably be one of the most important trade agreements Canada has signed since NAFTA and will lock signatories in for a minimum of 15 years.
The agreement adds up to a commercial bill of rights for China in Canada. Will this be a good thing or a bad thing for Canada? On one hand, Canada will get better access to the world’s largest emerging economy and Canadian investors will enjoy rights and protections they previously did not have. On the other hand, the deal may favour China as Beijing has far more domestic trade barriers than Canada. This basically means that trade is more “free” in Canada and Chinese companies may be subject to more regulations or government protections, which might work in China’s favour. Opposition to the agreement is being led by Osgoode Hall professor Gus Van Harten, who has written a 14-point letter to Stephen Harper detailing the failings of the agreement
Another point for concern is Parliament’s actions around the agreement. This agreement will have a significant impact on Canada, and yet very few people know about it. The agreement is making its way through the legislative process with very little scrutiny and very little debate. Other investment specialists may not be as concerned about the agreement as Van Harten is, but they still see Ottawa’s handling of the agreement as problematic. The government needs to report back to Parliament when handling investment deals, and the Harper government has failed to make the process transparent.
For the full article from the Globe and Mail: