Mixed Signals: What Recent Developments Tell Us About Canadian Foreign Investment Policy
Asper Review of International Business and Trade Law, Vol. 10, pp. 247-267, 2010
21 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 22, 2011
Even though Canada enjoys a high level of inward investment by comparison to many developed countries, its national regime is frequently criticized as restrictive. Some recent developments in Canada seem to suggest a new interest on the part of the federal government in developing more effective domestic and international rules for foreign investment and in breaking down some of the historical barriers to inward investment in Canada. The government frequently makes public statements emphasizing the “openness” of Canada to foreign investors. The steps actually taken to date, however, are not unambiguously supportive of a liberalized investment regime. In fact, the effect is decidedly mixed. This article surveys these recent developments, including changes over the past few years to the cornerstone of Canada’s domestic regime for foreign investment, the Investment Canada Act, to adopt guidelines for the review of foreign investments by state-owned enterprises, and to introduce a special national security review as well as more aggressive enforcement of the Act, including the first refusals of foreign investments since the Act came into force in 1985. The article concludes that the overall effect of recent developments is to diminish unnecessarily the attractiveness of Canada as a destination for foreign investment.
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