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Agriculture Canada promotes bottled water exports to China

Photo by FoodBev Media

The Council of Canadians opposes the Trudeau government’s promotion of bottled water exports to China.

This Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report dated February 2017 notes, “Even though Canada exported over CA$168.8 million worth of bottled water products to the world in 2014, it had a large export gap with China, as most (76.1%) of Canada’s bottled water products were shipped to the United States.”

It adds, “China’s demand for bottled water will continue to increase over the coming years, and their bottled water market is forecasted to almost double through 2019. Canadian bottled water exports to China have grown significantly over the last five years, although the supply gap is also growing. As such, there are significant opportunities for Canadian bottled water producers to expand in the Chinese market.”

In September 2016, this media release noted, “On the occasion of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China for the G20 meeting, Whistler Water Inc. signed a substantial investment agreement to promote, market and sell Whistler Water branded products in China and other overseas markets.”

Furthermore, in this article published in March 2015 about mineral water and bottled water, Water Canada reported, “In recent weeks, two Chinese businessmen have purchased two water sources in the province. Another Chinese man reportedly bought a water source in Chilliwack, B.C. for $17 million.”

The rapid industrialization of China has consumed massive amounts of water and has contributed to a terrible water crisis there. It has been estimated that 90 percent of groundwater in their cities and 75 percent of their rivers and lakes are polluted and as such some 700 million people drink contaminated water every day.

Because of that water pollution, China sees Tibet as a source of bottled water. The Globe and Mail has reported, “Using tax breaks and other forms of government encouragement, the country wants its companies to bottle five million tonnes a year of Tibet water by 2020 and double that by 2025.”

It’s likely that Chinese investors might increasingly see Canada as a source for bottled water, especially given Agriculture Canada is promoting the idea.

Now that bottled water exports to China have begun, they could be difficult to stop under the ‘investment protection’ provisions in the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) or a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) now the subject of exploratory talks between the Trudeau and Chinese governments.