Remarks by Under Secretary Lago - June 27, 2022

National Harbor, MD
June 27, 2022

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning and welcome to this plenary session on “Investment in Sustainability and Advancing Renewable Energy”. I am Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, and I could not be prouder of the International Trade Administration’s SelectUSA team, who achieved the mammoth feat of convening over 3,600 of us to highlight this country’s enormous investment potential.

Today I am thrilled to be joined by an esteemed group of panelists: Mr. JJ Yu, who is Vice Chairman & CEO of SK E&S; Madame Thuy, who is VinFast Global CEO and Vingroup Vice Chairwoman; and Mr. Mauricio Doehner, who is Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Enterprise Risk Management and Social Impact of Cemex.

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from this group of global leaders in the sustainability sector. While their companies represent different sub-sectors—including solar power production, wind energy, electric vehicles and construction—they are bound by a crucial choice: the decision to invest and expand their businesses in the United States. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about what makes the United States such a compelling destination for companies focused on sustainability. 

To state the obvious, the climate crisis grows more acute with each passing day, demanding urgent approaches to reduce emissions and develop clean energy solutions. Under President Biden’s leadership, this Administration is committed to tackling the climate emergency both at home and abroad, from accelerating the clean energy transition today to achieving net-zero domestic emissions by 2050. By doing so we will create millions of well-paying, 21st Century-economy jobs and drive the United States’ continued leadership in low-carbon and clean energy sectors.

Combatting climate change and meeting the President’s ambitious goals demands harnessing the innovative power of the private sector. For this reason, the U.S. government is doing all that we can to welcome and support sustainable businesses through foreign direct investment. In the last nine months, the SelectUSA team has facilitated over $4.4 billion in investment deals in the clean tech sector alone, supporting over 8,500 American jobs. And our efforts are only accelerating to meet the urgency of the moment.  

As the companies represented here today recognize, the U.S. market has an immense hunger for sustainable businesses. And our business environment fosters conditions in which non-U.S. businesses can thrive—including our robust domestic market, skilled workforce, extensive intellectual property protections, and a cutting-edge research and development ecosystem.  

It is no surprise that innovators from around the world continue to choose the United States as their destination. The tide of sustainable business and investment that they bring is reflected throughout our economy, as a steady stream of forward-looking clean technologies graduate from being cost-prohibitive or impractical, to becoming commonplace in American life. 
In just the past few years, we have seen tremendous growth and adoption. For instance, from 2016 to 2020, the number of electric vehicles on U.S. roads more than tripled, transforming the technology from a novelty to a near-necessity. Companies like VinFast, which recently announced a $6.5 billion investment to manufacture electric vehicles in the United States, are the impetus for this unprecedented growth.

The shift is not just in our vehicles—our power sources are changing rapidly as well.  Solar power is projected to comprise nearly half of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2022, with firms like SK E&S, which has expanded its renewable energy investments in the United States, leading the way.

These impressive figures are not outliers—they are indicative of a much broader trajectory that has catapulted sustainability to the pinnacle of the American market. And we have seen the same shift manifest in some of the companies represented here today. 

Take Cemex, for instance. Today, cement production is a significant contributor to climate change, accounting for eight percent of global CO2 emissions. 

Recognizing this, Cemex has committed to lessen its carbon footprint and is on pace to reduce carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2025.  Even more impressive, it aims to deliver only net-zero concrete by 2050. Disrupters like Cemex in carbon-intensive industries are essential to combating climate change.

From cement production to solar power, our global economy and our shared planet both stand to benefit from green innovation.  And nowhere is more hospitable to green innovation than the United States—the number one destination for FDI for a decade running. 

I hope that, like me, you will be inspired by the bold, forward-looking steps that our panelists today have taken. I also hope that you will be moved to make similar investments—we would welcome your green businesses.