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Speeches and Testimony

Remarks by OPIC President and CEO Ray W. Washburne at the Road to GES: Energy and Infrastructure

November 13, 2017 | Houston

(As prepared)

It’s great to be back in Texas. I’m heartened to see how your great city is rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey and I am really happy to finally have the opportunity to connect with Secretary Perry since we seem to keep missing each other during our official duties in Washington -- he heading the Department of Energy and me heading the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC.

OPIC is a little government agency that supports American businesses in emerging markets all around the world. I hadn’t been on the job even a month when Secretary Perry invited me to join him on a delegation to Kazakhstan and Ukraine. But when I went to board the plane, I discovered Secretary Perry had stood me up, leaving me on my own to fly off on my first ever official visit with the U.S. Government. Thanks a lot, Secretary Perry.

In all seriousness, Secretary Perry was right where he needed to be, supporting his home state during that devastating storm. And since then, even though we’re both serving our country in Washington, I’ve been in Asia. He’s been in Africa.So it’s nice to see him here in person here in Texas.

The people of Texas are great entrepreneurs and in a moment Secretary Perry will share more about what the U.S. Government is doing to support entrepreneurs around the world. But first let me tell you just a little bit about the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and what a business guy from Dallas like me is doing heading this government agency.

In a nutshell, OPIC is where government and business meet. The Agency was formed by Richard Nixon back in 1971 to mobilize the resources of business toward all of the big challenges the world faces. Poverty. Hunger. Poor infrastructure. Quite simply, big challenges require big resources. OPIC supports development with investment, not aid. We help American businesses invest in developing countries where they build power plants, hospitals, and help expand access to financial services to empower local entrepreneurs. This work has a powerful impact on the ground. It also helps open new markets for American businesses, and foster stability in a lot of places that are critically important to U.S. foreign policy. And I can’t end this little pitch without the best part: OPIC doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. We’re a self-sustaining government agency that actually returns money to the U.S. Treasury each year.

For someone like me who worked their way through college with a series of homespun businesses, it’s a natural fit and an honor to head an agency that supports American businesses and American interests around the world. I’ve been working hard to build some new initiatives focused on the Northern Triangle countries of Latin America, and tapping one of the most underserved segments of the global economy – women.

I look forward to sharing more about those and other initiatives in the near future but now I’ll turn the stage over to today’s keynote speaker, Secretary Rick Perry.