* PM, on Nov 3-11 Asian trip, will say Canada open for
* New foreign investment guidelines won't be unveiled during
* Government "overwhelmingly supports foreign investment in
* Investors uncertain over CNOOC, Petronas bids
* Nuclear supply deal being negotiated with India
By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA, Nov 1 Prime Minister Stephen Harper will
promote Canada as open for business during a Nov. 3-11 trip to
Asia, although he is not likely to unveil long-awaited
guidelines for foreign takeovers of Canadian firms, an aide said
"I don't think it's a problem at all to go around the world
and say we're open for business, because we are," Harper's chief
spokesman, Andrew MacDougall, told reporters ahead of the trip,
which will take Harper to India, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
"Canada overwhelmingly supports foreign investment in Canada
... There's been a small handful of transactions that have been
turned down under the Investment Canada Act."
The Investment Canada Act asks the industry minister to rule
whether foreign takeovers over a certain size are of "net
benefit" to Canada, a term that has never been fully defined.
The climate for foreign investment became even more opaque
after an interim government decision last month to turn down a
Malaysian bid for a Canadian company, and expected delays on
whether Canada will approve a Chinese takeover attempt.
The Conservative government, which says Canada needs some
$650 billion in investment over the next decade, has promised to
release new guidelines on foreign investment at around the time
it rules on the $15.1 billion bid by China's state-owned CNOOC
Ltd to take over oil producer Nexen Inc, and
Harper has said decisions would be made "fairly shortly."
Asked if the guidelines would be unveiled during the trip to
Asia, MacDougall said: "I don't expect we'll be covering much on
the foreign investment front."
The CNOOC bid has become increasingly controversial in
Canada amid heated debate over whether foreign state-owned
enterprises should be allowed to buy Canadian companies.
Sources close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that
the government needed more time to formulate its investment
guidelines, and the deadline for its CNOOC decision was likely
to be extended beyond Nov. 10.
Canada may also need the guidelines in the $5.17 billion
($5.17 billion) offer by Malaysian state oil company Petronas
to buy natural gas explorer Progress Energy Resources
In a surprise ruling, Ottawa rejected the bid on Oct. 19,
saying it was not of net benefit to Canada. Petronas has 30 days
to change the terms of its proposal and submit a new offer.
Harper will be in India from Nov. 4-9 with International
Trade Minister Ed Fast and a group of corporate executives. He
will then spend a day in the Philippines and half a day in Hong
He will meet the chief executive of Hong Kong, but will not
be meeting Chinese government officials during the visit.
Canada and India have been working for eight years on an
agreement to protect foreign investment, but it was not clear if
this might be signed on the trip.
The two countries also have been negotiating a civil nuclear
energy deal which would enable Canadian firms like Cameco Corp
to export uranium to India.
China and India signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in
2010 but Canada wants further language that will let it ensure
uranium imported from Canada is used only for peaceful purposes.
MacDougall could not say if agreement on these new
provisions would be reached next week.