Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for joining us.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you today on this momentous occasion. I would like to warmly welcome all our public and private sector partners and guests who came from all over the hemisphere and points beyond. I also want to thank the White House, the National Security Council, and the Chamber of Commerce for helping us make this event possible today.
But why is energy such a big part of today’s launch? Because energy is more than a matter of technical recovery – of BTUs or barrels. Energy is fundamental to development, to economic progress, to growth. América Crece is a whole of government effort which seeks to catalyze the private sector to advance prosperity throughout the hemisphere. The United States has developed a partnership-based model, working with countries around the world. We work with governments to understand their self-determined energy ambitions. We listen to where they want to go and when, based on their own self-determined path, regardless of energy type.
As we’ve all seen too often these past decades, if energy partnerships are not built and maintained effectively, a country can be susceptible to outside coercion or vulnerable to internal corruption. Some state-owned enterprises can come in from faraway places—in East Asia or Eurasia—and gain the upper hand through predatory lending. And some state-run energy policies tend to fail to live up to energy diversification goals we all seek.
Through América Crece, our goal is to foster partnerships with other countries so we can both achieve our shared energy ambitions to see the kind of long-term, sustainable growth we all want. Governments must help to create the right kind of investment climates for the right kinds of businesses, businesses which operate competitively, transparently, and with accountability – and that serve their shareholders and the everyday people who live and work where they operate.
Let me explain by way of example. Jamaica had a desire to improve its critical energy infrastructure and diversify its energy sector to move away from a singular source of fuel and to end its dependency.
Under América Crece, we met with Jamaican leadership and talked about our shared goals. We determined we wanted to work together for good governance, energy diversity, and new technologies in renewables as well as small-scale LNG. We’re honored that Jamaica chose to work with us in an expanded partnership that will enable them to secure more reliable, resilient, and efficient forms of energy.
When a country chooses to do business with a U.S. company, they know they’re securing the best technology – and the best health, safety, and environmental performance. And, importantly, they know these U.S. companies will respect the sovereignty of their host nations. U.S. companies have choices: They weigh the full range of risks and rewards when considering whether to invest in a given country or region. In contrast to countries with state-owned enterprises, the U.S. government doesn’t tell U.S. companies where to invest. Instead, we work with other countries to create the right conditions to be able to attract U.S. type of investment.
We also recognize that Latin American countries have other countries reaching out to them, pitching their own industries. I would caution to be wary of easy energy and easy money. There’s that old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” Some of our competitors from outside our hemisphere are offering quick results, but often with unclear terms, high interest rates, and little regard for local populations or environments. I encourage our partners to not only be good attractors of foreign investment, but also discriminating consumers of it.
As I wrap up today, I’d like to leave you with some of our major projects that fall under América Crece:
- First, we’re proud of our Caribbean Energy Security Initiative – known as the “CESI,” a loan guarantee program, which is helping mobilize $25 million in private finance for energy projects in the region in cooperation with the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica.
- In Argentina, we’ve partnered with the government to develop offshore safety and environmental regulations, as well as oil spill response programs. And in September, OPIC announced four large investment projects in Argentina’s energy sector, totaling nearly $700 million.
- In Peru we’re partnering on a better lifecycle for uranium so that Peru can safely develop their resources in line with international best practices.
Friends, we have a strong foundation in América Crece. In all these cases, we are bringing together top policymakers, energy experts, and business leaders. The United States is deepening and broadening our partnerships with leaders in the region and private sector, in 2020 and beyond.