Remarks for U.S.-Panama Infrastructure Investment and Energy Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony

Remarks by Treasury Under Secretary David Malpass

Remarks for U.S.-Panama Infrastructure Investment and Energy Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony

Panama, August 17, 2018.- Thank you.  It is an honor to be here today and to join Acting Minister of the Presidency Salvador Sánchez, Acting Minister of Economy and Finance Gustavo Valderrama, and my colleague from the Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary Steve Winberg, to memorialize and formally commence our work under this Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen Infrastructure Investment and Energy Cooperation between the U.S. and Panama.

This is a fine day for the United States and Panama – both countries blessed from sea to shining sea.  This signing marks the formal inauguration of the United States initiative called America Crece, or the Americas Grow – a bright, rising sun shining on the Americas.  This innovative program is designed to further open and unleash value in energy markets and catalyze private sector capital so that the region can realize its energy and infrastructure goals.  Private capital, not state-led investment, is the key to developing sound and high functioning energy systems.  Signing this MOU is testament to Panama moving forward firmly on just such a commercially oriented path.

Panama has been benefitted greatly from globally significant infrastructure investments, including the newly built AES Colon LNG Project, not to mention the Panama Canal, perhaps the most significant piece of infrastructure in the Western Hemisphere.  With Panama as our first formal partner in America Crece, the signing of this initiative today is an affirmation of the cooperation between our countries and further strengthens our partnership.

This MOU is the basis for a robust set of initiatives designed in collaboration by the Governments of the United States and Panama, and is the result of extensive discussions over the course of this year.  I would like to thank all involved who have devoted time and effort to get us to this point.

Now begins the concrete work to advance the agenda described in this initiative:  catalyzing private sector capital for investments throughout the energy value chain, upstream energy production, power generation, transmission and distribution, and energy use.

Specifically, we will mobilize expertise within our respective governments to pursue a number of energy initiatives, including to:

 

  • FIRST, further diversify Panama’s sources of energy to power the country’s economic growth;
  • SECOND, broaden Panama’s role as an LNG hub for Central America and the Caribbean;
  • THIRD, integrate natural gas as a source of downstream energy, furthering Panama’s environmental goals and making Panama’s economy more competitive;
  • FOURTH, accelerate Panama’s adoption of innovative power technologies, including renewables and related micro‑, mini-grid and battery storage systems, that will achieve energy source integration and catalyze investment in rural areas and at critical infrastructure facilities, thereby increasing Panama’s energy resiliency;
  • FIFTH, increase access to the electricity grid;
  • SIXTH, bring electricity to underserved populations in rural areas; and
  • FINALLY, enhance the reliability, resilience, and efficiency of the national energy systems.

In addition, we will further strengthen bidding and procurement processes for energy development that align with international best practices with a view toward delivering certainty in project completion and the best quality and value for Panama.

Panama has long been, and continues to be, a leader in opening its markets to productive investments.  The results of that are clear; Panama has achieved tremendous economic growth, lifting millions of its people out of poverty.  One glance at Panama City’s skyline, or at the traffic passing through the newly expanded Panama Canal, tells you just how successful Panama has been.

With today’s signing, we embark on the next phase of U.S.-Panama infrastructure and energy investment cooperation.  We look forward to this cooperation taking our rising and radiant sun to even greater heights and brightness to the lasting benefit of Panama and its neighbors.