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Mulroney on NAFTA, protectionism, and a Canada-China investment deal

Today is the 25th anniversary of the election of Brian Mulroney as prime minister and as a result we will undoubtedly be subjected to more of his reflections on and prescriptions for Canada.

Today’s National Post ran an almost full-page excerpt of a speech Mr. Mulroney delivered in Beijing yesterday.

Mulroney says when he became prime minister, “Formidable protective trade barriers, a maze of opaque and restrictive foreign investment barriers and heavy handed regulation hobbled the Canadian economy. There was no choice but to grasp the nettle of change and that is what we did. We implemented a free trade agreement with the U.S., extended it to Mexico and created the North American Free Trade Agreement. We converted a foreign investment review agency into a foreign investment promotion agency and declared that ‘Canada was open for business.’ We now offer binding guarantees for the fair treatment of foreign investment in our country, embedded in our free trade agreements or foreign investment protection and promotion agreements. Domestically, we moved to free the economy through deregulation, the privatization of government-owned companies and substantial tax reform.”

Mulroney says that during this current global economic crisis, “We must never forget that protectionism was tried during the Great Depression. It failed. We did not recover from its disastrous impact for many generations. We do not need to learn that lesson the hard way again.”

Mulroney highlights, “A Canada-China investment agreement would send an important message to business and investors that foreign investment in both directions is a vital part of developing the full potential of the relationship. There have been discussions about a Canada-China Investment Agreement for more than 10 years. The time has come to get it done.”

The fuller excerpt of Mulroney’s speech in the National Post is at http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/story.html?id=1960534.