Vancouver Sun | August 16, 2011
Canada, China in investor-protection pact talks, Trade Minister Ed Fast says
By Doug Alexander
TORONTO — Canada is discussing an investor-protection agreement with China, Trade Minister Ed Fast said Tuesday in an interview.
“We are working on something right now with the Chinese,” Fast told Bloomberg News in Toronto. Such agreements spell out “a clearly established set of rules, under which people invest in another country.”
Fast spoke after a speech to the Economic Club of Canada where he laid out his government’s commitment to open trade deals. Since the Conservative Party came to power in 2006, Canada has signed nine bilateral trade deals and opened talks with India and the European Union, and has begun “exploratory talks” with Mercosur, the trading bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
“We are not presently negotiating a free-trade agreement with China, but we are certainly not ruling that out at some time in the future,” Fast said. Canada is trying to work with China on an industry-by-industry basis, he said, such as beef and pork.
Fast said he “very hopeful” Canada will conclude an agreement with the EU in 2012, adding “we will not sign any agreement that isn’t in the best interest of Canadians. If that takes an extra month, or two, so be it.”
A move by the EU to challenge Ontario’s renewable-energy program for producers that use domestic technology shouldn’t upset negotiations, Fast said.
“That issue runs on a completely different track,” Fast said. “We’re negotiating that agreement on its own merits.”