The Government of Canada is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete and succeed internationally. An important part of this equation is ensuring that two-way trade and investment between Canada and other countries can take place in a stable, secure manner.
In keeping with this commitment, on January 8, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the signing of the Canada-Benin Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
A FIPA is a treaty designed to protect and promote Canadian investment abroad through legally binding provisions, as well as to promote foreign investment in Canada. By ensuring greater protection against discriminatory and arbitrary practices, and enhancing predictability of a market's policy framework, a FIPA provides investors with greater confidence. Canada has consistently supported strong, rules-based investment through the negotiation of FIPAs.
A FIPA does not change existing laws or regulations in either country, but it does create a rules-based investment relationship between the Parties by locking in legally binding provisions, such as on non-discrimination and free movement of capital.
There is significant potential for increased Canadian investment in Benin, especially in the environmental industries, infrastructure and extractive sectors. Once implemented, the agreement will facilitate investment flows and help create jobs and economic growth here at home.
The FIPA includes an article on corporate social responsibility, which Canada now aims to include in all FIPAs. This demonstrates that both Canada and Benin encourage investors to voluntarily adhere to internationally recognized standards and best practices on issues such as labour, the environment, human rights, community relations and anti-corruption.
Following the signing, the agreement will be tabled in the House of Commons in Canada for 21 sitting-days pursuant to the Government's treaty tabling policy. It will then come into force once the Order in Council has been approved by the Governor General of Canada and the ratification process in the Republic of Benin has been completed.
This Agreement will become Canada's first FIPA in force in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2008, in Africa alone, Canada has concluded FIPA negotiations with Benin, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, and Tanzania. Since 2006, Canada has concluded or brought into force FIPAs with 14 countries, and is in active negotiations with 14 others.