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Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be present here today - and to address this important audience on the occasion of the opening of the Mexican-Danish Business Forum.
I have three key messages for you.
First, both Mexico and Denmark have a clear interest in enhanced commercial relations between our countries.
Therefore, I am pleased to see that so many from the public and the private sectors in Mexico have accepted the invitation to come to this conference to learn more about Danish capabilities and expertise. Also, I am happy that Danish companies have taken this opportunity to promote their skills.
I am sure we have a lot to learn from each other. And I hope that we can use this unique occasion to form business partnerships from which we may benefit for many years to come.
Relations between our two countries are growing steadily. Today around 250 Danes reside in Mexico and 24 Danish companies have established subsidiaries here – many of them joint ventures with Mexican partners.
For a number of years, trade between Denmark and Mexico has been flourishing – with remarkable growth almost every year. And even though the Danish Krone has appreciated distinctly this year compared to the Mexican Peso, Danish exports to Mexico are about the same when measured in Danish Kroner – corresponding to around USD 175 mill.
Second, the necessary domestic climate and international trade agreements are in place for commercial relations to flourish.
The free trade agreement on goods and services, which was signed between the European Union and Mexico in December 1997, is now in full force. The results can be seen – and it is obvious that the agreement will further enlarge commercial relations between our countries.
Mexico’s policy of a free and open economy together with social responsibility and an active engagement in various international fora is an example to follow.
The Danish government strongly supports Mexico’s ambition to move forward with strong initiatives to restructure and deregulate the economy. To stimulate the creation and transfer of new technology. And to strengthen industrial competitiveness and increase domestic saving.
I appreciate the hard work done by the Mexican government during your recent chairmanship of the WTO. The eyes of the world were set upon Cancun, and although we did not see a breakthrough important discussions took place. There will be a second chance.
And in addition to the global process of trade liberalisation, I do believe that Mexican agreements of free trade with the USA and Canada, the European Union and several Latin American countries will benefit all partners involved.
Because of these agreements, companies in Mexico enjoy privileged - and, in many cases, zero-tariff - access to markets of more than 1 billion consumers in Europe and North and South America.
I have no doubt that these agreements will increase trade and investment between their partners.
However if Mexico is to reap the full benefits of the free trade agreements with North America and Europe, Mexico must expand into new products and services with greater value content.
When venturing into these new upper value markets, Mexico will meet stiffer competition and must comply with more rules and regulations. I know that the government and business society in Mexico are fully aware of this. Therefore you are interested in attracting technical know how from abroad and form strategic alliances with foreign companies.
And this brings me to my third message. Danish companies have a lot to offer in this field to the business community in Mexico. There is ample room to further strengthen the links between our two countries.
During the conference you will hear more about this. Present here today are outstanding business representatives of companies within food ingredients and telecommunications, who are prepared to offer information and services. There is also a large contingent of business representatives from the Danish energy and oil and gas sector. Indeed, this important sector is one the prime focuses of our visit. I will give you a few details in way of introduction.
When the first oil crisis occurred, 92% of Denmark’s energy supply was based on imported oil. But since then, Denmark’s dependence on oil has steadily decreased.
From 1980 to 2000 Denmark’s self-sufficiency with energy in total has risen from 5 to 139%. This result has been achieved partly by increasing domestic production of crude oil and partly through conversion to natural gas and renewable energy.
The research and expertise behind this formidable turn-about has given Denmark a competitive advantage in a number of fields connected to energy.
Therefore, in 2000 Denmark exported products and consulting services at a total value of USD 2.6 billion within the energy sector and since the beginning of the 1990s, exports by the energy sector have grown more strongly than Denmark’s total export.
Exports of technologies for renewable energy sources have grown most rapidly.
On the international level, Denmark is at the cutting edge with regard to utilising renewable energy sources. Denmark has promoted technological development to ensure increased utilisation of sources such as wind energy, solar heating, biomass, and wave energy.
In the field of oil and natural gas only a few companies are responsible for Denmark’s billion dollar exports of energy-saving and control equipment. Many of them are present here today. Their production is spread over a large number of countries.
During the sector seminars and the individual matchmaking meetings you will learn in more detail about Danish know-how and the capabilities and expertise of the companies present here today.
They represent the Danish energy sector, the oil and gas sector, sustainable energy, ingredients sector and many more. They constitute a broad variety of companies, but all with longstanding international experience from acting in the global marketplace. A number of Danish and Mexican companies have already ventured into some kind of co-operation.
I trust that this conference will be an excellent forum for further developing the already existing business relations between Denmark and Mexico as well as for creating new ones.
I wish you a successful conference.