Civil Nuclear Trade Mission – CzechJuly 19, 2010
Francisco J. Sánchez is the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade
We traveled from Poland to Prague, where the magnificence of the cobblestone streets and crumbling spires are as historic as the government tender that is currently open for bidding – the two new nuclear power plants scheduled for building represent the largest single U.S. commercial opportunity not only in Czech, but in all of Europe. The project is worth an estimated $27.5 billion, and will create thousands and thousands of jobs. If Westinghouse, one of three companies in the final running along with competitors from France and Russia, wins the bid, billions of those dollars will represent new U.S. exports, and thousands of those jobs will be high-paying U.S. jobs. We are promoting a fair and transparent procurement process, for if that happens, we are confident nobody can match the experience, expertise and technology of powerhouse Westinghouse. This is what the National Export Initiative is all about.
After touring the actual Czech build site at Temelin, we traveled by bus through the sun-flowered rolling hills onwards to Slovakia and the charming capital of Bratislava. One barely notices when crossing the border of these neighboring countries, and their commercial ties are deeply intertwined as well. In fact, the largest energy project currently in the works would be constructed and operated as a joint venture – 51% owned by the Slovak government and 49% owned by the Czech Energy Works. As we have throughout this trade mission, we enjoyed a warm welcome by our local staff as well as government counterparts, and candid discussions on opportunities and working together. The tender here reflects the importance of financing in landing these enormous deals – as private financing must be secured for the entire cost of the project. This is where our inter-agency efforts are critical, and our ability to provide access to capital and financing for our companies essential in enhancing our exports abroad.