Canadian pensioners invested $604 million into Chinese electric cars

Cabinet last Monday said it would review the impacts of Chinese electric vehicles on domestic industry. It made no mention of pensioner investments.

Canadian pensioners invested $604 million into Chinese electric cars
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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More than $600 million in pension dues have been invested in China’s electric vehicle sector, according to disclosures from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland blamed China last week for flooding the market with inexpensive electric vehicles (EVs), as part of “intentional, state-directed policy.”

Cabinet last Monday said it would review the impacts of Chinese EVs on domestic industry. Federal and provincial governments have allocated more than $52 billion in subsidies to ensure EVs are manufactured domestically.

However, the Pension Plan Investment Board disclosed $604 million in shares in the Chinese electric vehicle sector, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. No reason was given.

Stock bought with Canada Pension premiums included $287 million in Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., the world’s largest electric auto battery manufacturer. Canadians also own $12 million worth of stock in Great Wall Motor Co., maker of Ora-brand electric cars.

The only Chinese EVs currently sold in Canada are produced by Tesla Inc., which reported a 9% drop in earnings due to sagging demand. 

EV purchases plateaued in the third quarter of 2023, according to Statistics Canada. 

Other Pension Plan holdings include automakers BYD Co. ($116 million), Li Auto Inc. ($69 million) Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. ($26 million) and Nio Inc. ($19 million). 

China is also a major EV battery supplier, as well as battery components globally, accounting for 80% of all lithium-ion EV batteries worldwide in 2021. 

Millions more were invested in battery manufacturers and suppliers including Tianqi Lithium Corp. ($13 million), Eve Energy Co. ($7 million) and Ganfeng Lithium Group ($6 million).

Minister Freeland on June 24 announced a 30-day Customs Tariff review of trade practices in the electric auto market. 

The United States and Europe earlier agreed to implement tariffs to counter Chinese dominance. Canada promised retaliation but remained noncommittal on taking a similar course of action. 

Other measures include imposing a surcharge on Chinese EVs, excluding them from the $5,000 rebates and broader investment restrictions. 

“Workers and the auto sector currently face unfair competition from China,” Freeland said. She made no mention of pensioner investments in the Chinese industry. 

“We are living in a world right now where China is taking advantage of the global economic system. We know we need to defend our national interest and we will.” 

The Canada Pension Plan Board holds a total $7.5 billion worth of shares in Chinese companies of all types. They faced pushback last year for investing in coal mines, propaganda film studios and a solar power company linked to slave labour.

MPs have urged the Trudeau government since last December 13 to disqualify investments into ‘unethical’ companies. A committee report made several recommendations on pulling back. 

The Board could “compile and maintain an official list of companies deemed unsuitable,” said the report The Exposure Of Canadian Investment Funds To Human Rights Violations In The People’s Republic Of China.

However, they continue to disregard the ethics of certain Chinese investments. 

The Board is mandated to prioritize a “maximum rate of return” on all investments, according to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act.

There remains no legislative or regulatory provisions to dissuade investments into companies complicit in human rights abuses and other illicit activities.

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