Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance has announced amendments to the Investment Canada Act aimed at attracting private-sector foreign investment. The Minister expressed the government’s plans to make things easier for foreign investors in two ways.
First, starting in 2017, the threshold for triggering a review under the so-called “net benefit test” in the Investment Canada Act will rise to $1 billion from its current $600-million level. This meets a WTO commitment two years ahead of schedule. The threshold is based on the “enterprise value” of the Canadian business; lower thresholds will continue to apply to investments in “cultural businesses” and investments by state-owned enterprises and non-WTO investors.
The announcement comes on the heels of the signing of CETA. Upon coming into force, the threshold for reviewable investments will be $1.5 billion for non-state owned enterprises from countries that are parties to CETA and other international trade agreements.
Second, the government will publish guidelines for reviews under the national security provisions of the Investment Canada Act. The aim is to make it easier for foreign companies to navigate the national security review process and, in particular, to make it clearer which investments are likely to trigger a review under the national security provisions.
These changes are in support of the Canadian government’s “Invest in Canada” initiative to attract foreign investment.