BRIGHT FUTURES

Mexico 2016 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

TBY talks to Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, on bilateral relations, potential for new trade deals, and sustainability goals.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen
BIOGRAPHY
Lars Løkke Rasmussen was born on May 15, 1964 and has a master’s of law from the University of Copenhagen. In 1986, he became national chairman of the Young Liberals, and in 1994 became first deputy mayor and chairman of the Trade and Industry Committee and chairman of the Health Committee of the Græsted-Gilleleje Municipal Council. From 1998 to 2009, he served as vice-chairman of the Liberal Party, and between 2001 and 2007 he was the minister for the interior and health. He then became minister of finance until 2009 when he became Prime Minister of Denmark.

Denmark and Mexico will celebrate 190 years of bilateral relations in 2017, one of the longest bilateral relationships Mexico has held since its independence. How would you assess the state of this relationship?

The bilateral relationship between Denmark and Mexico is a uniquely strong one. At first glance, one might not expect Denmark and Mexico to have much in common. We are vastly different countries in many aspects, such as culture and geography. Yet in spite of that, the relationship that Denmark enjoys with Mexico is strong and benefits both our countries. When I welcomed President Enrique Peña Nieto and his delegation in Copenhagen, we had some inspiring discussions, and I am delighted with the many bilateral agreements signed between Mexico and Denmark in the areas of health, energy, and climate change. On global issues, Denmark has for a long time found a reliable partner in Mexico. It is reassuring to us to know that on critical issues such as combating climate change and supporting indigenous peoples' rights, Mexico is a standard-bearer and a trusted partner.

Where do you see the biggest potential for deepening trade ties between Mexico and Denmark?

Denmark is a small country with a long tradition of innovation and focus on increasing productivity, efficiency, and constantly moving toward greener and more sustainable solutions. Mexico on the other hand is a large country with an enormous labor force and good conditions to host production with global perspectives. It is my ambition that Danish companies sell more solutions and share more know-how with large Mexican companies to improve their competitiveness and market strength. In energy efficiency, for example, Denmark has developed world-class technologies and knowhow and Mexican companies with high-energy consumption could harvest major economic advantages by adopting Danish solutions. Denmark is also at the forefront of health and welfare technology. Mexico is building and renovating a large number of hospitals over the next years, and its government has a strong focus on increasing the quality of health services. The food and agricultural sector is also important in our trade ties. Denmark has great experience and world-class solutions when it comes to improving the efficiency and quality of meat and dairy production.

In 2015, Mexico and Denmark cooperated closely on the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals and signed a bilateral agreement to help Mexico meet its commitments to reduce carbon emissions. What are the major lessons that Mexico can learn from Denmark in this matter?

The simple fact is that necessity is the mother of invention. The Danish energy transition took off in the 1970s in response to surging oil prices. Today, it is not oil prices but the future of the entire planet that forces the world to change. The good news is that the transition is a sound business initiative. It eliminates the downsides and dilemmas of energy consumption and production, leaving us with a more viable long-term source of energy. By 2050, Denmark aims to be independent of fossil fuels. Danish exports of green energy technology almost tripled from $4.5 billion in 2000 to $15.5 billion in 2013. Green energy pays off, and as the international commitments become realized, the future of green energy business looks bright. In early 2016, we concluded a global climate agreement in Paris, where Mexico was one of the major players in realizing the commitments made in this agreement. Denmark has accumulated a significant volume of lessons learned that we now share in an Energy Partnership Program that includes a well-established Danish-Mexican energy cooperation for several years. Through this cooperation we supported the Mexican contribution to the COP21 negotiations, the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, which is now set to be implemented. In Denmark, we have a solid basis for long-term holistic energy planning and these experiences can be used in Mexico to ensure a cost-efficient green transition.