Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis led a California government and business delegation from October 1–4 to Mexico City to collaborate and sign new agreements with Mexico on a number of key issues, including renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, clean technology, trade and commerce.
The mission was the first international delegation of the Newsom administration. Participants included about 20 state agency representatives and 20 private sector leaders, including two members of the California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors—Stuart Woolf of Woolf Farming and Processing, and Jennifer Haley of Kern Oil & Refining Co.
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) helped organize and lead the mission. A special thanks to IEnova, Sempra Energy, University of California, Visit California, Wine Institute and the California Chamber of Commerce.
At the welcome reception on the first day of the conference, Christopher Landau, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, spoke positively about the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. Landau was accompanied by Minister Counsellors, who gave overviews of their issue areas.
Lt. Governor Kounalakis greeted the California delegation, and Susanne Stirling, CalChamber vice president of international affairs, also welcomed the group on the organization’s behalf.
UC Casa California Conference
The second day, a conference entitled “México and California: Building Environmental Resilience Together,” took place at La Casa de la Universidad de California en México (Casa California), the intersection of the free exchange of ideas between the UC and Mexico. Here, the Lt. Governor announced that California has created a Trade and Services Desk to promote two-way trade between the state and Mexico.
Stefano Bertozzi, director of the UC Mexico programs and dean emeritus of the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, moderated the Plenary Panel entitled “Achieving Environmental Goals in an Unpredictable Climate.” The session featured: Kate Gordon, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research; Marina Robles, secretary of the environment for Mexico City; Andrew McAllister, commissioner of the California Energy Commission; and Antonio del Rio, director of the Institute of Renewable Energy in Mexico.
After the panel, Mexico City and the California Energy Commission signed an agreement on energy and environmental policies. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) includes provisions that outline energy efficiency standards, environmental policy development and the optimization of the electric power grid.
Afterwards, the members of the California delegation chose to attend one of four sessions: “Achieving a Sustainable Clean Energy Future for Mexico and California,” “Developing Common Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change,” “Agriculture and Water: Linking Productivity Improvements and Environmental Outcomes in California and Mexico” or “Impact of Climate Change on Migration, Health and Labor.”
To cap off the second day, Lt. Governor Kounalakis and Sergio Alcocer, Mexico’s former undersecretary of North America and COMEXI Board member, conversed about a variety of issues, including immigration, climate change, cannabis and women in government.
On the third day, the delegation heard remarks from Francisco Bega, the outgoing Governor of Baja, on the increase in border crossings and economic development. Delegation members then departed to Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet with Ambassador Mario Chacon, who discussed the 52 free trade agreements of which Mexico is a part and expressed support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
During the luncheon for the delegation, a group of California companies working in Mexico discussed the best practices for conducting business in the country. Afterwards, the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE), the Business Coordinating Council, talked about business prospects between California and Mexican companies.
More than 200 people, including Mexican officials and dignitaries, business partners, UC alumni and CalChamber members, attended an evening gala in Casa California, the capstone of the days-long event.
The delegation was greeted by Graciela Márquez Colín, secretary of the economy, at Mexico’s Ministry of Economy on the last day of the trip.
A second MOU was signed that will expand California-Mexico relations in trade, environmental policy, energy, and investment. With a focus on cross-border agricultural efforts, the MOU includes provisions that will create more robust economic cooperation between Mexico and California in increasing renewable energy, clean technologies, workforce development and the digital economy.
A visit to the Ministry of Agriculture to meet with Mexico Agricultural Secretary Victor Villalobos Arambula concluded with the signing of a third MOU focused on cross-border agricultural efforts.
Stirling wrote a more in-depth, day-by- day account of the trade mission. To read this series of blog posts, see the 2019 Mexico Trade Mission in the dropdown menu at www.calchamber.com/international.