BEIJING, November 21, 2011 – Canadians welcome Chinese investment, but China needs to reciprocate by providing Canadians with greater freedom to invest in China, says The Honourable John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE).
Speaking at a conference in Beijing organized by the Canada China Business Council (CCBC), Mr. Manley said that Canadians and other non-Chinese investors face a raft of restrictions when it comes to participating in the world’s second-largest economy. A number of key sectors of the Chinese economy are off-limits to foreign-owned businesses; in some other industries, foreign firms are allowed to operate only through joint ventures with Chinese-based companies.
Similar restrictions apply to large individual and institutional investors. For example, non-Chinese investors seeking to buy and sell shares on Chinese public equity markets must submit to a rigorous and time-consuming licensing process. Even when they are successful in winning Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor status, foreigners face limits on the amounts of securities they are allowed to purchase.
Mr. Manley said that Canada prides itself on being open to foreign investment, “both through our public markets and in relation to private investment.”
As of 2010, the total value of Chinese investment in Canada was estimated at $14 billion, more than twice the value of Canadian investments in China. Much of the recent investment activity focuses on Canada’s oil and gas sector. Three Chinese three state-owned companies – China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Sinopec and PetroChina – have announced significant investments in oil sands projects in Alberta.
In another sign of growing Chinese interest in the Canadian economy, China Investment Corp., the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, chose Toronto this year as the site of its first foreign office.
“It goes without saying that Canadian investors ought to be afforded the same access to China that Chinese investors are afforded to Canada.” Mr. Manley said. “Unfortunately, this is not the case today.”
“This lack of openness is an obvious source of frustration for Canadian investors, particularly given the recent dramatic increase in Chinese investment in Canada.”
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The CCCE is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization composed of the CEOs of 150 leading Canadian companies, representing all sectors of the Canadian economy. The companies they lead collectively administer C$4.5 trillion in assets, have annual revenues in excess of C$850 billion, and are responsible for the vast majority of Canada’s exports, investment, research and development, and training.
In October, the CCCE and the CCBC jointly published a report by Dr. Wendy Dobson, one of Canada’s leading economists, that urged Canadians to develop a much more focused strategy for dealing with the rise of China and other Asian emerging economies. The report notes that Asia’s rise “is transforming the world’s economic and geopolitical landscape” at a pace unprecedented in human history, generating big increases in demand for energy and other natural resources as well as a wide range of consumer products and services.