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Canada to streamline project review process in resources industry

(Xinhua)

13:56, March 30, 2012

OTTAWA, March 29 (Xinhua)-- The Canadian government will streamline the approval of natural resource projects such as gas and oil extraction, oil pipelines and mining projects, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in his budget speech Thursday.

Jim Flaherty announced "one project, one approval" approach to streamline the environmental review process. The finance minister made it clear that the federal government will rewrite the regulatory system to ensure that projects are not delayed by environmental groups.

"We will implement responsible resource development and smart regulation for major economic projects, respecting provincial jurisdiction and maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection," Flaherty said.

"We will streamline the review process for such projects, according to the following principle: one project, one review, completed in a clearly defined time period." Flaherty added.

Currently, major resource projects may take six or seven years to be approved partly due to some duplication. Under the new rules, the whole process will take no more than two years.

In his budget speech to the House of Commons, Flaherty described Canada's natural resources as a "massive" asset. He noted that roughly 750,000 Canadians are employed in the oil and gas, mining and forestry sectors.

Flaherty also said "it has become clear" that Canada needs new Asia-Pacific markets. He said the government "will ensure that Canada has the infrastructure we need to move our exports to new markets."

Flaherty warned that Canada could lose a "historic opportunity" if the country lets the markets of resource-hungry Asia-Pacific economies fall to Canada's competitors.

In February, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited China in a bid to expand trade links. Earlier this month, he visited Thailand, South Korea and Japan. In Tokyo, Harper announced that Canada and Japan have decided to launch talks on a bilateral free trade agreement.

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