During his visit to China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to offer to ease ownership restrictions in the oilsands by state-owned enterprises to rekindle Chinese investment in Canadian oil and gas.
The issue of oil-sands investment is one “that we’re certainly going to lean into,” Trudeau said Friday. He left Monday for a 10-day trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hangzhou, where he’ll attend the Group of 20 summit. His schedule includes a meeting with Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, the controlling shareholder of Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc., a significant oilsands player.
The Liberal government is focused on “ways we can enhance the Canadian economy,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who is on the trip as well, said on Aug. 21. “In that light, we seek to encourage investment in Canada and that’ll be something we’ll be bringing forward in meetings in China as we will in bilateral meetings with all the countries we meet.”
The problem is that the ownership restrictions, introduced in late 2012 by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, aren’t the main reason the Chinese stepped back from the Canadian sector.
The big investment killers have been lack of pipeline capacity, perennial regulatory delays, and a climate change policy that is increasing costs in an already expensive jurisdiction, which Trudeau’s government has exacerbated.
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