Harper sells natural resources in South America

Prime Minister’s “sale pitch” emphazises corporate tax cuts.

April 16, 2012   by The Canadian Press

CARTAGENA, Colombia: The Conservative government’s budget promise to speed up the regulatory process for major natural resource projects is yet another reason Latin American investors should be taking a closer look at Canada, Stephen Harper told executives from across the hemisphere Saturday.

The prime minister delivered remarks at a forum of CEOs just before the official opening of the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 33 leaders from across the region.

“We cannot allow valid concerns about environmental protection to be used as an excuse to trap worthwhile projects in reviews-without-end. So, let me be clear: when it comes to evaluating development plans, one should not confuse the length of the process with the rigour of the science,” Harper said in his prepared speech.

“What matters is that the relevant facts are fully considered. That need not take years.”

Although many of the leaders at the summit have been focused on more strictly political issues here—the continuing exclusion of Cuba at the summit table and new ways of combating the war on drugs—Harper has stuck closely to a pro-trade agenda.

Canadian exports have been flagging over the past several years, and Canadian manufacturing has felt the blow with an estimated 500,000 lost jobs. At the same time, South American countries have seen strong economic growth and are an appealing destination for potential trade and investment.

Harper’s speech at the CEO summit was mostly a sales pitch on the attractiveness of Canada’s investment landscape. He emphasized the Conservative government’s cutting of corporate taxes.

“Our reliable, low-tax regime encourages the long-term investment that produces high-paying, highly-skilled jobs in the mining sector,” Harper said. “Our government understands that low, predictable taxes encourage business to do business. It is as simple as that.”

Harper announced Saturday morning funding for a handful of initiatives in the Americas. A new “sustainable energy access” project would devote $9.55 million over six years to improve energy planning, regulation and corporate social responsibility across the region.

The Canada-Americas Business Environment Reform would provide $11 million-worth of technical assistance over five years to strengthen the investment climate in Latin America.

The government will also renew its commitment to the Organization of American States with $20 million over three years.

©The Canadian Press

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