A Rule of Reason for Inward FDI: Integrating Canadian Foreign Investment Review and Competition Policy
The Investment Canada Act (ICA) needs an overhaul. This reform must include a paradigm shift in thinking to a much less restrictive view about the benefits of foreign direct investment in Canada. Currently, the ICA operates under the presumption that foreign firms behave detrimentally to the Canadian economy: foreign acquirers are required to show “net benefit” to Canada and may need to make onerous commitments for maintaining output or employment. This attitude, a holdover from the ICA’s predecessor, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, has created an atmosphere which fosters protectionism and relies on economically incoherent factors to assess the merit of proposed transactions. It is time to shed that archaic attitude and adopt a more reasoned perspective. Rather than requiring each proposed transaction to provide proof for the specific benefit to Canada, the ICA should assume that foreign acquisitions benefit Canada unless there is proof to the contrary. A more welcoming, balanced and rational perspective would be that foreign acquisitions actually improve the productivity of Canadian companies and contribute to the wellbeing of Canada’s economy. The ICA is flawed in other ways, too. Some reviews of proposed transactions have become unnecessarily fraught with politics. Think of the recent politically enmeshed fretting over the bid that the state-owned Chinese Offshore National Company made for Nexen Energy, or Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas’ bid for Progress Energy Resources Corp. Indeed, there has been a very real fear of traditionally Canadian-owned institutions losing their Canadian essence to foreign ownership. Then, too, there is the federal government’s built-in ability to impose onerous conditions, or undertakings, on foreign acquirers. All this is clearly a deterrent to potentially beneficial foreign investment in Canada. Canada needs a new regime without nationalism, protectionism and politics. Ideally, this new regime would require decisions based on economically-grounded criteria, with the onus placed on the federal government to prove that a given transaction would be detrimental to the domestic economy. This would shift the government’s role from its current one, in which the minister of innovation, science and economic development approves a proposal deemed to be beneficial to Canada, and has broad powers to withhold federal approval. This leaves the rejected foreign acquirer with no impartial avenue of appeal, such as a specialized tribunal. The reforms to the ICA should also include establishing a specialized tribunal where foreign acquirers can challenge negative decisions, just as the Competition Act provides a means for challenging antitrust aspects of mergers and acquisitions more broadly. There is extensive empirical evidence demonstrating that foreign investment is beneficial to Canada because it results in improvements in productivity and competitiveness. As well, foreign-controlled firms in Canada pay higher wages, make large investments in R&D, innovation and skilled labour, experience fewer layoffs during economic downturns, and impart their technologies to domestic firms, among other benefits. Indeed, from 1980 to 1999, 2/3 of Canada’s manufacturing sector labour productivity growth came from foreign-controlled companies, even though they comprised only 40 per cent of that sector’s employment. Not only could the Competition Act with its tribunal model serve as a framework for these much-needed reforms to the ICA, but, as well, reform of the ICA should similarly entrench the promotion of competition, economic efficiency and domestic welfare as its core objectives. That translates to not treating foreign investment as an end in itself, but as a means to promote economic efficiency through competition in both markets for products and corporate control.
The following is the copyright statement of SPPP.
Copyright © <Author name> <year>. This is an open-access paper distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC 4.0, which allows non-commercial sharing and redistribution so long as the original author and publisher are credited.
Publication Copyright and Licensing
The following guidelines and information, provided in six sections, are intended for authors (the “Author”) who are invited to write a paper (the “Work”) for The School of Public Policy Publications (the “Publisher”). The rights and responsibilities conveyed in the SPP Author Agreement will only apply once your paper is accepted for publication. At that point in the publication process, you will be asked to download the form and return a signed copy via e-mail to email@example.com. Please review the below information to ensure agreement with SPPP policies.
Section 1: Author’s Grant of Rights
In consideration of the Publisher’s agreeing to publish the Work in The School of Public Policy Publications, the Author hereby grants to the Publisher the following:
1.1 The irrevocable, royalty-free right to publish, reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform and distribute the Work in perpetuity throughout the world in all means of expression by any method or media now known or hereafter developed, including electronic format;
1.2 The irrevocable, royalty-free right to use the Author’s name and likeness in association with the Work in published form and in advertising and promotional materials related to the Work; and
1.3 The irrevocable, royalty-free right to license others to do any or all of the above.
Section 2: Prior Publication & Publication by Others
2.1 The Author agrees not to publish the Work, or authorize any third party to publish the Work, either in print or electronically, prior to publication of the Work by the Publisher.
2.2 The Author agrees not to publish the Work in any publication outlet which is substantially similar to The School of Public Policy Publications for a period of six (6) months after publication of the Work in The School of Public Policy Publications. Substantially similar is defined as a non-subscription, open-access publication outlet with a similar mandate/vision and intended audience.
2.3 Should the Author publish or distribute the Work elsewhere at any time or in any alternate format, the Author agrees to contact The School of Public Policy Publications to inform them of the subsequent publication.
2.4 Should the Author publish or distribute the Work elsewhere at any time or in any alternate format, the Author agrees to make reasonable efforts to ensure that any such additional publication cites the publication in The School of Public Policy Publications by author, title, and publisher, through a tagline, author bibliography, or similar means. A sample acknowledgement would be:
“Reprinted with permission from the author. Originally published in the The School of Public Policy Publications, http://www.policyschool.ca/publications/.”
Section 3: Editing and Formatting
The Author authorizes the Publisher to edit the Work and to make such modifications as are technically necessary or desirable to exercise the rights in Section 1 in differing media and formats. The Publisher will make no material modification to the content of the Work without the Author’s consent.
Section 4: Author’s Ownership of Copyright and Reservation of Rights
4.1 Nothing in this agreement constitutes a transfer of the copyright by the Author, and the copyright in the Work is subject to the rights granted by this agreement.
4.2 The Author retains the following rights, including but not limited to, the right:
4.2.1 To reproduce and distribute the Work, and to authorize others to reproduce and distribute the Work, in any format;
4.2.2 To post a version of the Work in an institutional repository or the Author’s personal or departmental web page so long as The School of Public Policy Publications is cited as the source of first publication of the Work (see sample acknowledgement above).
4.2.3 To include the Work, in whole or in part, in another work, subject to Section 2 above and provided that The School of Public Policy Publications is cited as the source of first publication of the Work (see sample acknowledgement above).
4.3 The Editors and Editorial Board of The School of Public Policy Publications requires authors to publish the Work under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC 4.0). This license allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the Work for noncommercial purposes, and ensures the Author is credited for the original creation. This onward licensing is subject to section 2.4 of this agreement, which further ensures that the original publisher is credited.
Section 5: Author’s Warranties and Undertakings
The Author warrants that:
5.1 The Author is the sole author of the Work, or if a joint author, the Author has identified within the Work the other authors, and holds the copyright, either solely or jointly, and has the power to convey the rights granted in this agreement.
5.2 The Work has not previously been published, in whole or in part, except as follows:
5.3 Any textual, graphic or multimedia material included in the Work that is the property or work of another is either explicitly identified by source and cited in the Work or is otherwise identified as follows:
5.4 To the best of the Author’s knowledge, the Work does not contain matter that is obscene, libelous, or defamatory; it does not violate another’s civil right, right of privacy, right of publicity, or other legal right; and it is otherwise not unlawful.
5.5 To the best of the Author’s knowledge, the Work does not infringe the copyright or other intellectual property or literary rights of another.
5.6 The Author will indemnify and hold Publisher harmless against loss, damages, expenses, awards, and judgments arising from breach of any such warranties.
Section 6: The Reuse of Third-Party Works
The Publisher requires that the Author determine, prior to publication, whether it is necessary to obtain permissions from any third party who holds rights with respect to any photographs, illustrations, drawings, text, or any other material (“third-party work”) to be published with or in connection with your Work. Copyright permission will not be necessary if the use is determined to be fair dealing, if the work is in the public domain, or if the rights-holder has granted a Creative Commons or other licence. If either the Author or Publisher determines for any reason that permission is required to include any thirdparty work, the Author will obtain written permission from the rightsholder.