Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
U.S.-Mexico Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Roundtable
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Mexico City, Mexico
As prepared for delivery
Good morning and thank you for that generous welcome. On behalf of the Obama administration, it is a pleasure to be with you today.
Before I begin, let me first thank Ann Bacher for that very kind introduction and, more importantly, for her tremendous work as our Senior Commercial Officer here in Mexico City. I also want to thank Under Secretary of Energy Sergio Alcocer, and all the Mexican government officials present, for your incredible leadership and service.
Finally, I want to thank the U.S. business representatives in attendance for lending your voices to this conversation. This is a very important meeting that I hope will lead to big ideas and bold actions that benefit both our countries.
We come together at a critical time in our history. We live in an age of transformation. Globalization and technology are changing the ways we live and do business. A kid with a smartphone can do things today that world leaders and CEOs couldn’t even dream of years ago.
In this new environment, all of us are looking to reposition ourselves for success. And, all of us are looking for new ways to sharpen our competitive edge. Countries and businesses that fail to adjust to this new reality will be left behind. It’s that simple.
So, that’s why we’re here today: to build new bridges of cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as our two countries. Thankfully, we are building on a solid foundation.
As you know, Mexico and the United States share more than just borders; we also share deep cultural ties.
And, of course, we share economic bonds that, I’m proud to say, have grown strong over the years. The Mexican community has made lasting contributions to the economic life of the United States. And, we’ve been proud to be a part of your development.
U.S. exports to Mexico have grown nearly 300 percent from 1993 to 2010. And last year, combined two-way trade in goods and services reached nearly $340 billion. We’ve come a long way. But, some challenges still lie ahead. Both our countries are still working to recover from the global financial crisis. And, both of us — like the rest of the world — need to address growing climate challenges.
These needs have led us here to this Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Roundtable. As all of you know, these days, any talk about “clean energy” is sure to generate heated discussions. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there.
But today, we are more interested in reality than rhetoric. So let’s focus on the facts. The clean energy industry is home to some of the most innovative entrepreneurs and products. It’s a sector that holds enormous potential for job growth in both our countries.
In addition to putting people to work, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the public health. And, as the global population booms, it will play an increasing role in meeting the world’s energy demands.
Here in Mexico, I’ve been told that energy demand will likely double by 2030. But with your world class resource potential — from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower — Mexico has the ability to meet this demand with clean, renewable energy.
I commend President Calderon and the Government of Mexico for your commitment to making this vision a reality. For Mexico, and the rest of the world, clean energy technologies present a unique opportunity to achieve the triple bottom line: profits for businesses, jobs for people and a healthier planet for all.
That’s why the U.S. Government supports Mexico’s clean energy goals. We know it presents a great opportunity for your country and we want to help you seize it. We want to be your partners and build a cleaner, more prosperous future — together.
After all, President Obama, like President Calderon, is a strong supporter of clean energy technologies. The Recovery Act, for example, invested over $80 billion in clean energy. It paid off, leveraging over $110 billion in private-sector investment.
As a result, today, new power plants are up and running, new manufacturing facilities are producing component parts, and new research is happening that will help usher in a clean energy future for all of us.
But, we don’t want to work alone. Climate change is a global challenge. Addressing it should be a global cause. I know that the Mexican government shares this view. That’s why President Obama and President Calderon created the U.S. Mexico Bilateral Framework for Clean Energy and Climate Change in 2009.
It was an important step towards our goal. Today, we take another important step with this roundtable discussion. As many of you know, this is part of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative, or RE4I, which the Department of Commerce launched last year.
It serves as a compliment to President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. We want the innovative clean tech products and services — developed in America — to be available to markets all over the world.
Obviously, this will benefit our businesses. But, it will also help our trading partners meet their renewable energy goals and contribute to their long-term development. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Unfortunately, the history of clean energy development is full of missteps and half measures. As a result, our suppliers were sometimes unable to meet export orders.
And, for those who wanted to buy U.S. technology, it was often difficult to identify and meet American exporters to buy from. These were just some of the challenges.
But, the RE4I helped remove many of these barriers. Unfortunately, many barriers still remain: from the pricing of renewable energy to transmission issues and grid interconnection standards.
That’s why we’re here today: to talk about these challenges and identify solutions for them.
Let me be clear: the United States does not have all the answers to these questions. We are here to discuss these issues as partners with a shared vision of a clean energy future.
And, we want to shape this future together. I don’t have to tell you that this is an important conversation. Over the next few decades, many countries — including the United States and Mexico — will need to rebuild and reinvent almost every industrial activity, from power generation to transportation.
And, we must do it in a way that decreases our dependence on fossil fuels so we can address climate change and secure our energy future. Over the past few days, 19 outstanding U.S. clean energy companies and I met with many of your agencies.
The meetings were overwhelmingly positive. It’s clear that both sides recognize the opportunities and the potential benefits that exist if we work together. Now, it’s time for both sides to solve the issues that block us from reaching our clean energy potential.
That work begins today. I encourage all of you to talk openly because progress often starts with conversations like this. The partnership between Mexico and the United States is defined by friendship and mutual respect.
We share a rich history. And together, we can build an even better future.
It’s a future where Mexico achieves its renewable energy goals, and U.S. exporters play a significant role in this development. It’s a future I want to see. I’m sure you do, too. So, let’s get started.
Once again, my thanks to the Mexican government for hosting us. I look forward to a very productive discussion.
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