Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael C. CamuÑez
Market Access and Compliance
Border Energy Forum Plenary
Thursday, October 27, 2011
El Paso, New Mexico
As prepared for delivery.
Let me begin by saying, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today and share my views on this important topic. It is a great pleasure to be here and participate in the 18th Annual Border Energy Forum and this joint plenary session with Reenergize the Americas as you seek new cross-border opportunities and partnerships to grow and facilitate trade and development in the energy sector. It is an honor to be with such distinguished colleagues and leaders on this panel.
I’m especially happy to be here in El Paso, a place that feels like home to me. I was born just up the road in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and have many wonderful memories from my childhood spending time in this area. Many members of my family were born and still live here, so the border region is a place that is very close to my heart. So thank you for giving me the chance to come “home.”
As the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, I have the responsibility for deepening our strategic trade relationships worldwide, and it’s hard to imagine a trading relationship that is more important to the economic well being of our nation than our relationship with Mexico. Part of my job is to help US companies increase and grow their market share overseas, especially in critical sectors of the economy. And of course renewable energy and energy efficiency is one of those critical markets.
The vision of the Border Energy Forum to achieve a secure, sensible energy supply consistent with a growing economy and a healthy environment on both sides of the border is one goal the Commerce Department and the Obama Administration share.
Relationship with Mexico and Renewable Energy Opportunities
We all agree that renewable energy can spur economic growth and create jobs for both our countries, while addressing climate change and energy security concerns.
Mexico enjoys one of the world’s strongest resource bases for renewable energy production. A recent report suggested that Mexico could meet 95 percent of its electricity demand with clean energy (including nuclear) by 2050 – and nearly half of its energy demand (42 percent) by 2015.
Given Mexico’s proximity to the United States and the resource potential of the Mexican market for renewable energy, the potential for future trade opportunities in the sector is significant.
The goal of the Border Energy Forum is to build new bridges of communication and cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as between our two countries, which will lead to the facilitation of cross-border energy development and greater trade opportunities. Thankfully, we are building upon 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 Mexico’s 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 $400 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 to this Border Energy Forum. 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.
In Mexico, I’ve been told that energy demand will likely double by 2030. But with its world class resource potential — from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower — Mexico has the ability to meet this demand with clean, renewable energy.
Calderon and Obama Presidential Support for Clean Energy
I commend President Calderon and the Government of Mexico for its 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, and we want to help Mexico seize it. We want to be partners and build a cleaner, more prosperous future — together. And its certainly our hope at the Department of Commerce that US technology can play a critical role in helping Mexico achieve its goals.
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. And it has paid off, leveraging over $110 billion in private-sector investment. I was pleased to see the state of Arizona’s presentation earlier describing the benefits that have come from the stimulus to the people and the state of Arizona. Several good things are happening around the country.
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.
The Framework was an important step towards our goal. Another important step is the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative, or RE4 Initiative, which the Department of Commerce launched last year.
The RE4 Initiative serves as a complement 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 U.S. 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. In the past, the United States could have done more to encourage investment. 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 RE4 Initiative is pursuing a concrete strategy to identify opportunities for enhanced trade in renewable energy, and to address the key market access barriers that limit our ability to cooperate binationally. As part of this effort, just last month, the Commerce Department’s Under Secretary for International Trade was in Mexico City along with 19 U.S. clean energy companies for two days of meetings with senior Mexican officials on renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) policy development.
While in Mexico City, Under Secretary Sanchez and the delegation met with the Mayor of Mexico City, three commissioners from Mexico’s energy regulator (CRE); the President of CFE – the state-owned utility company; and the Secretariat of Energy. The delegation also participated in the first U.S.-Mexico Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Roundtable.
The meetings made clear that there is significant potential in Mexico for renewable energy development and that the Mexican Government is willing to work closely with U.S. companies.
The policy visit allowed for an informative and productive exchange between the U.S. companies and Mexican government officials on key topics such as: 1) the pricing of renewable energy, 2) transmission and grid access issues, 3) electricity subsidies, 4) tendering procedures, and 5) performance requirements and standards.
It allowed the Mexican government to highlight their renewable energy goals as well as their targets for promoting the deployment of renewable energy technologies, which will no doubt create business and job opportunities in both the United States and Mexico.
The conversation that was begun in Mexico City last month can now continue here in El Paso. This Border Energy Forum is a perfect opportunity to discuss these issues with a shared vision of a clean energy future.
The United States and Mexico can shape this future together. 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.
It’s clear that our countries recognize the opportunities and the potential benefits that exist if we work together. Now, it’s time for both sides to tackle the challenges and solve the issues that block us from reaching our clean energy potential.
I wish you a successful and productive Forum as you proceed through the workshop sessions over next two days.Thank you.
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