During his recent five-day visit to China, Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the Canada-China Business Forum at Beijing Hotel on February 9, and made the following prepared Statement in which he advocated closer business and cultural ties between the two countries:

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Peter, also for your kind introduction, and thank you to the Canada-China Business Forum for the opportunity to speak here today and also for organizing this impressive gathering of Canadian and Chinese business leaders. This is the fifth such forum that has been held, and I congratulate you for helping build stronger trade relations between Canada and China.

“I’m honoured to share the podium today with His Excellency Vice Premier Li, with whom I just concluded a cordial and productive meeting, I hope of the first of many to come. That meeting is one of many I will be having with senior government officials during this trip, and I know that all of these meetings with Chinese leaders will help strengthen Canada-China relations.

“I also want to acknowledge representatives of the Canadian Chambers of Commerce of Shanghai and Hong Kong who are with us today, and greetings as well to Wan Jifei, Chair of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. I’m very pleased to be back in China.

“It is an auspicious time – the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. As the most exciting creature in the ancient Chinese zodiac, the dragon inspires confidence, energy and success, characteristics that also define the flourishing relationship between Canada and China.

“We have seen remarkable growth in two-way trade and investment, people-to-people ties, and bilateral cooperation over the past few years. It is no accident, I think, that Canada and China came through the global recession avoiding the severity of the financial, economic and employment crises seen elsewhere. Throughout this challenging period, our governments, our business leaders and our peoples have worked diligently to identify and to seize opportunities for expanding mutually beneficial trade and investment. There is a symmetry between our economic needs that is found among only a small number of our trading partners.

“Canada has the resources, technological sophistication, and geo-strategic positioning to complement China’s economic growth strategy, and China’s growth, in turn, complements our determination to diversify our export markets. The proof is in the numbers, starting with investment. Two-way investment has increased almost 700 per cent during the last seven years. Canadian direct investment in China rose to nearly $5 billion in 2010, up nearly 40 per cent from the previous year. Chinese direct investment in Canada rose almost 10 per cent in 2010, approaching $15 billion. These impressive numbers will only grow with yesterday’s conclusion of our new Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement. It’s the same story for two-way trade.

“Thanks in part to our government’s investment in the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Canada’s lumber exports to China are setting records. The ‘China-Canada Green Building Design Center in Langfang’ that I visited this morning is an impressive building. It reminds us of a ski chalet, and it is one of the largest wood-frame buildings in China, but what is more important about it is that it is a demonstration project built entirely with Canadian lumber, Canadian products, and Canadian construction training.

“We expect to see similar success stories in Canadian energy exports to China, once infrastructure is in place. Since the granting of Approved Destination Status during my last visit here, Chinese tourism to Canada is also flourishing. In that regard, I was very pleased yesterday to attend the opening of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s office in Beijing, and to kick off their 2012 campaign. As well, Canadian beef exports have recently resumed after a 10-year hiatus.

“Globally, China is now Canada’s second-largest trading partner. This 20-per-cent rise in our exports in 2010 is reflected in our government’s dramatic expansion of our trade commission network in China, helping Canadian companies capitalize on countless business opportunities. And speaking of business opportunities, I am honoured to be present at this business forum, and to have witnessed the signing of a significant number of commercial agreements just a few minutes ago. Together, the value of these 23 agreements is close to $3 billion dollars.

“Among the signatories are some very well-known Canadian corporate names. The list includes: Bombardier, Canada’s renowned aircraft and commuter train manufacturer which has won several contracts to supply rail cars and other technologies for Chinese public transit systems, Telus and Bell, two of Canada’s largest telecommunications service providers will upgrade their networks here, and ClevrU Corporation has developed an internet-based remote learning package that will increase access to education.

“Also yesterday, in the Great Hall of the People, Premier Wen and I reached a number of important agreements. The cumulative impact of these accords truly takes Canada-China relations to a new level. They deal with air transportation, and double taxation.

“We renewed an earlier Memorandum of Under­standing on energy cooperation. We secured a deepening of our Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, and we have agreed to jointly fund science, technology and innovation research into human vaccines, and clean transportation. I’m therefore pleased that we have also agreed that following the completion of the joint study on economic complimentaries later this spring, Canada and China will proceed to exploratory discussion to further deepening our economic and trade relations. Further diversifying our trade relations has the potential of greatly expanding Canadian growth and Canadian job creation. They also signal the growing engagement between our people at every level, from tourism and student exchanges, to partnerships among business leaders, to relationships between senior government leaders such as myself and Vice-Premier Li.

“In the long run, it is these personal connections that will define our relationship. The more Canada and China do business together, the more we build our cultural networks, the more we collaborate in international forums, the deeper I’m convinced our friendship will become. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a goal worth striving for. Thank you.”

The Prime Minister made a similar speech to a business audience in Guangzhou the following day.

Canada and China announce FIPA accord

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese Pre­mier Wen Jiabao signed in Beijing a declaration of intent for a Foreign In­vestment Pro­motion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), after 18 years of negotiations between the two countries.  A Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) is a bilateral agreement aimed at protecting and promoting foreign investment through legally binding rights and obligations.

In order for the FIPA to be ratified, the negotiated text must undergo a thorough legal review in English, French and Mandarin. After the legal review is complete, the FIPA is signed by both parties, made public, and then proceeds through each country’s respective ratification process.

In Canada, the FIPA will be tabled in the House of Commons for 21 sitting-days. It will then come into force once approved by the Governor General and the ratification process in the People’s Republic of China has been completed.

Canadian investment in China, which surged to record levels in 2010, was valued at approximately $5 billion – an increase of 38% over 2009 levels. Investment took place in a broad range of sectors including financial services, transportation and technology.

Chinese investment in Canada reached $14 billion in 2010, an increase of 9% from 2009. Chinese firms are actively investing abroad and have expressed a strong interest in investing in Canada. Sectors of interest include, among others, natural resources and renewable energy.

Canada currently has FIPAs in force with 24 countries and is engaged in active negotiations with 10 others.

Canada and China strengthen strategic partnership

Prime Minister Harper and Pre­mier Jiabao also witnessed the signing of new joint initiatives and the renewal of existing bilateral initiatives between the two countries in the areas of energy, natural resources, education, science and technology, and agriculture.

More specifically, the two leaders witnessed the signing of:

• A Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Development of Natural Resources that will provide a platform to promote Canadian expertise, technologies and services in that area;

• A renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooper­ation that will attract capital investment and improve access to Chinese markets for Canada’s energy resources, technology and related services;

• Initiatives on agriculture that clear the way for immediate access to the lucrative Chinese beef tallow market and joint research that aims to create a stable trading environment with China for Canadian canola seed;

• A statement of intent to launch two new calls for proposals for joint research and development projects under the Canada-China Frame­work Agreement for Coop­eration on Science, Technology and Inn­ovation, as well as the announcement of results for a previous call for project proposals; and

• A Memorandum of Understanding on protected areas and parks that will provide a framework for Canada and China to collaborate and share their professional and scientific knowledge and experience in the management of national parks and nature reserves.