Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Chinese President Hu Jintao met on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit on Sunday, after witnessing the signing of a wide-ranging investment pact.
The two leaders watched as Ed Fast, Canada's minister of international trade, and Chen Deming, China's minister of commerce, signed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which was announced during Harper's visit to China in February.
"Our government is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete globally," said Harper. "This agreement with China — the world's second largest economy — will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China, and create jobs and economic growth in Canada."
The Sunday morning meeting is considered the centrepiece of the prime minister's trip to the APEC summit in Russia because of his government's focus on expanding trade with the Asian economic giant.
"Mr. prime minister, we attach great importance to the China-Canada relationship," said Hu, as the two leaders took up seats opposite a long table, flanked by their officials.
"I look forward today to discussing with you a range of issues and finding ways to further strengthen our relationship," Harper replied.
The meeting also comes at a key time because Industry Canada's ongoing review of the China National Offshore Oil Co.'s $15.1-billion deal to buy Calgary-based Nexen Inc.
China has already invested heavily in Canada's natural resources sector, but the Nexen bid has sparked concern because CNOOC is a state-owned company, not a private company.
Prior to arriving at the summit, Harper said the onus is on China to show that its state-run enterprises can be trusted to play by the same rules that apply in Canada.
Harper's other big meeting at the summit came Saturday with his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, when the two men essentially agreed to disagree on the crisis in Syria.
The summit is being held in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
Prior to arriving here, Harper said the onus is on China to show that its state-run enterprises can be trusted to play by the same rules that apply in Canada.
Harper told a business audience in Vancouver that Canada can conduct its relations with China respectfully, "but (is) not afraid to further our own interests and to raise our own concerns on things like human rights." He added that Canada has "important things that the Chinese want"
Harper said he wants to deepen economic relations with China but that relationship must be a two-way street, or "win-win to use the Chinese expression."
Earlier on HuffPost:
Here are a few details of the major investment deal coming soon between Canada and China, as well as a list of what CBC chief political correspondent Terry Milewski calls a "small blizzard of incremental agreements," signed in Beijing. <em>With files from CBC</em>. (Diego Azubel-PoolGetty Images)
The Big One: FIPA
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement (FIPA) between Canada and China the first "comprehensive economic agreement" between the two countries. In fact, what was signed by Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao in Beijing is not the final deal, but a declaration of intent: Now it must be legally reviewed and ratified by both governments, which for Canada will mean a debate in the House of Commons. Once both countries complete this process, it will need to be formally signed to take effect. This deal will protect Canadians investing in China, as well as Chinese investors in Canada, from "discriminatory and arbitrary practices." Once in place, investors can have more confidence that rules will be enforced and valuable business deals will be subject to predictable legal practices. Harper told reporters in Beijing he "absolutely" expected that it will make a "practical difference." "The agreement does not override existing Canadian law in regard to foreign investment and foreign investment review," Harper said. "Those laws remain in place." Negotiations for this agreement took 18 years, and key players in manufacturing, mining and the financial sectors were consulted to get to this stage. It's not unusual for Canada to have this kind of an agreement with a trading partner. FIPAs are in force with 24 other countries that trade with Canada, and active negotiations are underway with 10 other countries, according to the government's announcement. (Diego Azubel-PoolGetty Images)
The 'Blizzard' (By Sector):
(AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
- A new protocol, building on a 2010 agreement to restore Canada's market access to the Chinese market for Canadian beef following the 2003 BSE outbreak and resulting border closures, to allow industrial beef tallow (fat) to be imported for the first time in almost a decade. China used to be Canada's top export market for tallow ($31 million in 2002), and now Canada has a shot at a share of the $400 million in tallow China imports from around the world. - A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on canola research, to address a recent fungal disease in canola and rapeseed that threatens Canada's valuable trading relationship with China in canola. - On Tuesday, Chinese aquaculture feed company Tongwei announced it will increase its purchase of Canadian canola by up to $240 million per year by 2015. (DAVID BUSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
- A MOU between Natural Resources Canada and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to collaborate on scientific research on sustainable development of natural resources. The government release touts benefits including new technologies for resource firms, carbon emissions reduction strategies, reduced environmental impacts and natural hazards from resource development, and new opportunities for Canadian suppliers of equipment and services. - A MOU spelling out a "framework" for Parks Canada and China's state forestry administration to collaborate and share scientific expertise in the management of national parks, natural reserves and other protected areas. The agreement includes language around ecological restoration, conservation measures for endangered wildlife, wetlands development, and the preservation of forests and wetlands. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/47096398@N08/" target="_hplink">Flickr: eleephotography</a>)
- A continuation of the MOU, first signed in 2001 and renewed in 2006, on energy co-operation to "engage China on energy issues" through a Canada-China joint working group on energy co-operation, chaired by Natural Resources Canada and China's national energy administration, which is responsible for Chinese energy policy. The working group oversees joint research projects, exchange of expertise, and co-operation between energy companies in both countries, including the promotion of energy efficiency and renewables. It aims to both attract capital investment and improve market access for Canadian energy resources and technology. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Science and Technology
- Approval of seven projects, valued at $10 million, under the Canada-China framework for co-operation on science and technology and innovation, including: a diagnostic kit for acute kidney injuries, a wind energy seawater desalination system, a waste heat-recovery system to help oil refineries consume less fuel, new solar cells for renewable energy panels, a real-time multi-sensor navigational tracking device for hand-held devices, a blue-green algae bloom warning system and "next generation" large-scale geographic information systems. - Two more calls for proposals, valued at $18 million ($9 million from each country) for joint research under the same framework. These proposals are for the development of "innovations with high commercial potential" in the areas of human vaccines and clean automotive transportation. The Canada-China joint committee on science and technology, made up of individuals from industry, academia and government, sets the priorities and oversees these projects. (To date, 21 projects ranging from nuclear power to AIDS drugs, to clean technologies for pulp and paper have received some $28 million in funding.) (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
- A renewed MOU extending and modifying the Canada-China scholars' exchange program, which has seen 900 students travel between Canada and China since 1973. New eligibility rules and scholarships will be in place for the next round of competitions in 2012, including eight to 12 Canadian scholarships for Chinese professionals and 20 awards for Canadian university students. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/plutor/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Plutor</a>)