Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and President Obama worked together on regulatory reform to find ways to move goods and services efficiently across not only our borders but around the world. These investments are positioning Canada as the gateway of choice between Asia and North America. Canada's west coast ports are more than two days closer, so it is helping to expand that market.
Since 2006, our government has invested $1.4 billion in Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure projects, an amount that has been leveraged to almost $4 billion with the participation of provincial and municipal governments and the private sector. It is a true partnership. A total of almost 50 projects have been supported, creating jobs and economic growth in local communities, while easing the movement of goods, services and people to and from the fast-growing Asia-Pacific economies.
As a result of these strategic investments and partnerships, Canadian exports to the Asia-Pacific region have reached record levels. These investments are also generating new business opportunities, improving the flow of traffic, enhancing the efficiency of the transportation system, attracting investments and contributing to Canada's global competitiveness.
In what remain globally challenging economic times, more must be done to improve the flow of Canada's much sought after commodities, from oil and gas to potash, lumber and coal, through our west coast.
Our government will continue to build on this competitive advantage. These are just a few examples of how our government is promoting the interests of Canada's exporters.
Ultimately, to capture new opportunities in these dynamic markets, our government is creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses and exporters to compete and succeed internationally. The principle is quite simple. Government does not create the business. What it does is set the framework to make it more convenient, efficient and stable for businesses. They like the elements of stability and certainty within the agreements and will move forward and invest. Consequently, an important part of the equation is ensuring that not only two-way trade but also investment between Canada and other countries can take place in a stable and secure manner. That is why Canada has over 24 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with key trade and investment partners, including China, the world's second largest economy.
I would be remiss if I did not highlight the fact that not only is China the world's second largest economy, but it recently became Canada's number two export market, second only to the United States. Canadian goods exports to China rose 15% last year to over $19 billion. Not only that, but Canada's exports to China have nearly doubled under our Conservative government.
I am not one of the most partisan members of Parliament in this House. I have been on the international trade committee. I have worked together with all colleagues in the House. It is unfortunate that despite all these successes, the NDP continues to fearmonger and spread myths about our trade agreements in general, this foreign investment protection agreement, and trade overall and how important it is for Canadians. This should not be a surprise to many Canadians. After all, it is the same NDP that opposed the Auto Pact and the historic North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA, and whose member for the B.C. Southern Interior recently argued that trade agreements “threaten the very existence of our nation”. It is the same party that stood in this House to oppose trade agreements with countries as diverse as Panama, Colombia, Israel, Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, Switzerland and even Liechtenstein.
Page 18 of the NDP policy book today states that the “New Democrats believe in...[r]enegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement”.
In my community of Kelowna—Lake Country, NAFTA has been an incredible success for the wine industry in British Columbia as well as in Ontario, Nova Scotia and across Canada. It has been a great success, and the NDP wants to renegotiate it. I just cannot imagine that. Last year, our two-way trade in goods and services with the United States exceeded $742 billion. That is nearly $2 billion a day, or almost $1.4 million every single minute.
The chair of the international trade committee, Senator Andreychuk, and I had the opportunity last week to be in Washington to meet with new members of Congress and to inform them of that importance. Many of them were not aware of the one in five jobs, 20% of the GDP and the $2 billion a day in trade. It is a great success story, and we need to continue to be proud of it, not go down to the United States and tell them how bad we are here in Canada. We are in this together. It is the best partnership and the two most integrated economies in the world. We want it to continue to grow. These numbers are not simply sterile statistics. They represent some 2.4 million Canadian jobs, jobs that the NDP would jeopardize if it had its way.
The NDP's anti-trade credentials are well established. In particular, I would like to take a moment to dispel the many inaccuracies the NDP and its anti-trade allies have been spreading about Canada's foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with China.
Our Conservative government is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete globally. Ultimately, Canada's foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, otherwise known as FIPA, with China, the world's second largest economy, will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China and will create jobs and economic growth right here at home. It is an agreement that establishes a clear set of rules under which investments are made and under which investment disputes are resolved. For Canadian businesses looking to set up in China, they cannot be treated less favourably than any other foreign company looking to do the same. Once an investment is made, Canadian businesses cannot be treated less favourably than any other businesses, including Chinese businesses. Importantly, the agreement protects investors from government expropriation, except under strict conditions, and even then only with appropriate compensation. That is only fair. We treat others as we would want to be treated.
This FIPA would also ensure that all investment disputes are resolved under international arbitration, ensuring that adjudications are independent and fair. It would remove some of the challenges of culture, language, etcetera. Canadian investors in China will no longer have to rely on the Chinese legal system to have their disputes resolved. As David Fung of the Canada China Business Council said, “Without this agreement, Chinese investments in Canada would receive the protection of the well-developed Canadian judicial system but Canadian investments in China would have to live with the uncertainties of a developing Chinese judiciary”. Very simply put, Chinese investors in Canada have the protection of the rule of law. All we are asking now, with this agreement, is that our Canadian investors be given the same benefit in China that investors from China have been experiencing all along. We are leveling the playing field to help Canadian businesses.
I would also like to emphasize that ours is the first such agreement China has signed that specifically includes language on the transparency of dispute settlement proceedings. There has been lots of discussion about that today. This is the most transparent agreement that has been signed between China and any country, and that obviously speaks volumes about the negotiation skills of our senior public trade officials and trade commissions.
This has been said many times in the House, but allow me to repeat it: It is Canada's long-standing policy that all dispute resolution should be open to the public and that submissions made by the parties be available to the public. Under this FIPA, any decisions of a dispute resolution panel will be made public, period. It is that simple.
As I mentioned earlier, the NDP and its special interest allies have gone to great lengths in the past and today in the House to spread misinformation about this agreement. Let me categorically state what the agreement does not do. First, the agreement does not hinder Canada's ability to regulate and legislate in areas such as the environment, culture, safety, health and conservation. On top of that, provisions in the agreement will preserve Canada's current ability to review foreign investments under the Investment Canada Act to ensure that they provide a net benefit to Canadians and that our national security is not compromised. Let there be no doubt that under this treaty, Chinese investors in Canada must obey all the laws and regulations of Canada, just as any Canadian must.
In short, the Canada-China foreign investment promotion and protection agreement is similar to other investment treaties Canada has signed with key trade and investment partners. We join countries such as New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan that have all signed investment treaties with China on terms that are similar to, or in many cases less favourable than, the terms Canada has been able to negotiate with China. Once again, I give full marks to our senior public servants and the trade commissions negotiating this very good FIPA.
Ultimately, this investment treaty will help protect the interests of Canadian investors. The key purpose of the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement is to ensure that Canadian investors can invest in China with greater confidence, spurring increased investment in China and creating jobs and economic growth for hard-working Canadians. I do not know how many times I can say it, but we want to have a rules-based system for Canadian investors in China, just like Chinese investors have had in Canada for a number of years.
This investment agreement is just one example of how our government is promoting the interests of Canadians and is working to create new opportunities for Canadian exporters in China. The potential for increased Canadian investment in China is significant, given that China is expected to become the world's largest economy by 2020. My hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway mentioned that earlier in his comments. We will have great opportunities in the years ahead. The Chinese economy can and will benefit greatly from Canadian innovation expertise.
China is home to an expanding middle-class consumer base, and it has a burgeoning science, technology and innovation sector that needs Canadian expertise. Further boosting the Canada-China partnership is the fact that we are joined by the ties of family. More than 1.4 million Chinese Canadians enrich every aspect of our country, including some members of our House. We are looking at all aspects of the country. We are enriching the arts, literature, science, business, politics and philanthropy. This reflects the strong people-to-people links that are helping us to take our relationship to the next level.
Therefore, it is very unfortunate that, in addition to pursuing their archaic anti-trade ideology, the New Democrats do not see the value in strengthening our relationship with China. For our part, the Government of Canada is working very hard to deepen relationships with dynamic, high-growth markets around the world. As I mentioned, the Minister of International Trade is working tirelessly to grow the markets around the world, but quite obviously China is not at the top of the list of the NDP.
We have been very clear with the Chinese government that Canada wants to continue to expand its commercial relationship with China, but only in a way that produces clear benefits for both sides, a win-win situation. By establishing this clear set of investment rules that provides greater protection against discriminatory and arbitrary practices, this agreement will give Canadians greater confidence as they consider whether to invest in China. As I mentioned, the stability and predictability are what members of the business community cry out for, and this is what we are providing with this agreement.
In summary, the principle of the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, or the Canada-China foreign investment protection agreement, or FIPA, is to ensure that Canadian investments in China are protected and that there is reciprocity so that Chinese investments in Canada are protected. As well, this is about giving Canadian companies investing in China the same rights and privileges as a Chinese company would have. This is about protecting Canadian foreign direct investment in China. We cannot do that without allowing those same rights and privileges to the Chinese. It is called “reciprocity”. It is called “fairness”. It is called “reasonable rules-based trading”. Rules-based trading is reasonable, in my mind, and it is fair, and I believe that all Canadians support fairness.
To alleviate some of the fearmongering from our NDP friends across the way, this treaty in no way impedes Canada's ability to regulate and legislate in such areas as the environment, culture, safety, health and conservation, which is another thing that needs to be clarified. I am concerned about the environment just as much as anybody in the House. I have three daughters and two grandsons, a one year old and a six year old, and I care about their future. I care about jobs and the opportunities they will have. This agreement provides that certainty for businesses.
Because of the diverse composition of the exports to China, this agreement affects people from all regions of Canada. We all need to pay attention and support this agreement because overall it is a good opportunity to provide jobs for Canadian workers. It is a good agreement for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.