Feds hope Chinese economy will open to Canadian investment

PM Harper speaks to the media at Parliament Hill, Dec. 7, 2012.



OTTAWA -- With Chinese government-owned CNOOC getting the thumbs-up to buy its way into the oilsands, the feds are raising hopes that the Chinese economy will become more open to private Canadian investment.

"The Chinese government said to our government that they are seeking, of course, a win-win outcome," Industry Minister Christian Paradis told Sun News Network on Saturday. "We believe they will have a pragmatic approach and this is what we want."

Late Friday, the feds approved CNOOC's $15.1 billion bid to buy out Canadian oil company Nexen, along with Malaysian state-owned Petronas's takeover of natural gas player Progress Energy.

If China's mining sector becomes more open to Canadian investment, it would put a smile on the face of the president of the Canada China Business Council, Sarah Kutulakos.

"With the welcoming nature we have had to mining investment in Canada, we would like to see it be easier for Canadian companies in China, especially, to go from exploration to production," said Kutulakos.

NDP natural resources critic Peter Julian says he doubts Beijing is about to dismantle the great wall around its notoriously closed economy.

"(The prime minister) has already lost that window," said Julian. "He simply seems incapable of negotiating things in Canada's interest."

The NDP has been resolutely against the CNOOC takeover of Nexen for months.

Meantime, Julian dismisses new investment rules announced by the Conservatives as just "a few tough words."

The rules allow the government to more closely scrutinize how a foreign state-owned enterprise's takeover of a Canadian company would put the target of the buy-out, or an industrial sector, under foreign influence.

The Tories have also said new attempts by foreign state-owned enterprises to gain control of Canadian oilsands companies would only be approved in "exceptional" cases.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper explained Friday he believes foreign investment will still come into Canada.

"Canada is a society that is stable," said Harper. "It has none of the attributes of the other developed countries that have caused grief to the global economy in the past three or four years. Canada is a society with an unprecedented regard for the rule of law."

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) seems to agree.

CCCE president John Manley says in a statement that it appears the investment guidelines "will safeguard the national interest while ensuring that Canadians continue to reap the benefits of a welcoming approach to foreign investment."

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