Chinese companies urged to increase investment in Canada

Updated: 2012-02-09 09:17

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Chinese companies should intensify their drive to invest in Canada, especially in the energy sector, as there are tremendous opportunities, an official from the Ministry of Commerce said.

"We could anticipate the growth (of China's investment in Canada) ... of course, there are already many good examples," Jiang Shan, minister counselor of the nation's embassy in Canada, told China Daily.

"Chinese enterprises could make forays into or add investment in the categories of coal, iron ore and potash manure."

On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper started a five-day official visit to China, his second since his Conservatives took power in 2006.

As an important part of the visit, Harper will promote sales of Canadian oil while pushing for greater access for Canadian banks and insurers in China.

The visit will see the completion of negotiations for bilateral investment protection agreements, said a statement by the Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday.

A joint study on how the economies of China and Canada complement each other will be completed by May, it said.

Jiang said there has been an apparent increase in Chinese investment in Canada.

"We can feel that the Canadian government welcomes Chinese investment, without setting any restrictions. Meanwhile, China's companies have a strong desire to invest in Canada," said Jiang.

"But I strongly suggest that they (Chinese companies) partner with their local counterparts and create jobs in the local market to ensure the success of the deals," he added.

Harper is leading a delegation of more than 40 Canadian executives. He is also scheduled to meet with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, welcoming Chinese investment into Canada's energy industry.

During the past two years, Chinese companies have poured billions of dollars into Canadian energy assets.

In 2011 alone, there were two large acquisitions of Canadian energy companies by Chinese companies. Each deal was valued at more than $2 billion.

In October, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, Asia's biggest refiner, agreed to buy the oil and gas producer Daylight Energy Ltd, which is based in Calgary.

In July, CNOOC Ltd, China's largest offshore oil explorer, bought Calgary-based Opti Canada Inc to expand its oil sands reserves.

More recently, PetroChina - which previously agreed to buy a 20 per cent stake in Shell's Groundbirch assets - moved to extend its reach into Canadian shale gas assets through a deal with Royal Dutch Shell. That transaction was reported to be worth more than $1 billion.

Figures from Statistics Canada show that in 2010, China's investment in Canada was three times that of Canadian enterprises' investment in China, or $4.8 billion.

Harper said recently that Canada was making major transformations to sustain its economic growth, prioritizing moves such as building capacity to export oil to Asia and negotiating trade agreements.