Canada-Benin FIPA: Stephen Harper’s new scramble for Africa’s wealth

 “A FIPA is a treaty designed to protect and promote Canadian investment abroad through legally binding provisions,” - Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Harper Yayi pic Canada Benin FIPA: Stephen Harpers new scramble for Africas wealth

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and the President of the Republic of Benin Thomas Boni Yayi shake hands after holding a joint news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Jan. 8, 2013.
(FRED CHARTRAND /THE CANADIAN PRESS)

With the new Canada-Benin Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), Canada’s first FIPA in Sub-Saharan Africa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has strengthened Canada’s foothold on the new scramble for Africa‘s wealth. First, the deal gives Canadian companies unfettered access to the wealth of the “corrupt” and severely underdeveloped West African country. Second, the companies will be protected from scrutiny for human rights abuses, for which Canadian companies operating in Africa and other developing countries are notorious.

Harper makes no secret of these facts.

“Our Government is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete and succeed internationally which generates jobs and economic growth here at home,” he said in a release announcing the deal. “The investment agreement signed today will provide better protection for Canadian companies operating in Benin… A FIPA is a treaty designed to protect and promote Canadian investment abroad through legally binding provisions…”

Ironically, before jetting into Canada to meet with Harper, globe-trotting Benin President Thomas Yayi Boni met with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday and “explored avenues for the further expansion of the relations and cooperation between the two countries”. Boni reportedly described Iran, the current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), as an “important partner”. How is this relevant? Harper hates Iran. Last September, Ottawa nuked diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

The statement from the prime minister’s office:

8 January 2013
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Dr. Thomas Boni Yayi, President of the Republic of Benin and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), today announced the signing of the Canada-Benin Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).  The announcement was made during an official visit to Canada by President Boni Yayi.

“Our Government is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete and succeed internationally which generates jobs and economic growth here at home,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “The investment agreement signed today will provide better protection for Canadian companies operating in Benin and further strengthen economic ties between our two countries.”

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.

As part of the Canada-Benin FIPA process, Canada consulted with a variety of stakeholders, including those in the natural resources sector. There is significant potential for increased Canadian investment in Benin, especially in the environmental industries, infrastructure and extractive sectors.

Now that the agreement has been signed, both countries will proceed with their respective ratification process. In Canada, this will include tabling the agreement in the House of Commons for 21 sitting-days, putting it on track to become Canada’s first FIPA in force in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Since 2006, Canada has concluded or brought into force FIPAs with 14 countries, and is in active negotiations with 14 others.

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 Canada Benin FIPA: Stephen Harpers new scramble for Africas wealth

Obert Madondo

Publisher, Editor at The Canadian Progressive
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based activist and progressive political blogger. He's the founder and publisher of The Canadian Progressive, a hard-hitting, provocative, unapologetic, activism-oriented political blog.
 Canada Benin FIPA: Stephen Harpers new scramble for Africas wealth