Thanks Claudia. Goodnight everyone.
It is a pleasure to be here with AmCham in Tegucigalpa.
Time flies, and today is exactly three months since I arrived in Honduras.
In these three months I have made an effort to learn as much as possible about all aspects of life in Honduras.
If you have seen my tweets, I have eaten shots and drunk coffee.
And I’ve gone shopping at the Saturday bazaar.
I have had productive meetings with President Castro, and her cabinet.
I have also visited San Pedro Sula to visit social programs in collaboration with the private sector.
And I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit several U.S. companies operating in Honduras.
The United States is committed to helping Honduras achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
But valuing short-term stability over long-term sustainability is a mistake.
To have sustainable and inclusive growth, it is important that all of us focus on increasing prosperity, improving security, and strengthening democracy.
You cannot have prosperity or security without democracy. Everything is connected.
We have heard the concerns of the Honduran government about the financial situation and the limitations for investment in health and education programs.
These challenges can be overcome by raising money on the domestic market.
The Treasury Department will provide technical assistance to help Honduras achieve that goal.
Honduras faces other challenges for sustainable and inclusive economic growth, such as the energy sector.
We all agree the energy sector requires urgent measures to improve the situation.
It also requires action to provide a better investment climate for the private sector.
As I have expressed both privately and publicly, we support the focus of President Castro and her administration on energy reform.
And we firmly believe energy reform is critical to economic development.
But, due to the new energy law, many companies that were considering investing in Honduras have changed their plans.
For example, they have selected another country, reduced their anticipated investment, or decided to freeze their planned investment.
In other words, investors have decided the investment climate is not favorable.
The investment will not return until there is more certainty in the rule of law.
Honduras needs billions in private investment in the energy sector to support economic growth.
Modifying the law so that there is legal certainty will be a very attractive signal for investors. This week we have welcomed Scott Nathan, CEO of the Development Finance Corporation, (DFC).
He met with government and private sector officials to discuss potential opportunities for more investment by US companies.
But no financing can build a good investment climate.
Only governments can do it.
And a key part of this effort is improving transparency.
It is important the UN and the Honduran government reach an agreement to implement an effective anti-corruption commission.
In the coming months, the National Congress will select new magistrates for the Supreme Court of Justice.
A transparent and credible selection process is essential to building public confidence in the justice system and strengthening the rule of law.
In fact, Congress is considering reforms to this selection process.
We support all efforts that strengthen the transparency and credibility of the process.
The private sector has a very important role.
We need you, as private sector leaders, to engage on these issues with a unified voice.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight.
I look forward to working together with you in the years to come.
Now, let’s enjoy the cocktail.