Meridian Corporate Council Annual Meeting with Under Secretary of State, Jose W. Fernandez

The Honorable Jose W. Fernandez, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment engages with Meridian Corporate Council members at the Corporate Council Annual Meeting on November 10, 2022. Photo by Jess Latos.

The Meridian Corporate Council Annual Meeting continues to deliver necessary and timely conversations between private sector representatives and U.S. government officials. On Thursday, November 10, 2022 Meridian was honored to host The Honorable Jose W. Fernandez, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. During the meeting, the Under Secretary shared his insights into key geoeconomic policies and issues being tackled by his team. Ambassador Stuart Holliday, CEO of Meridian International Center moderated the program. 

Here are the top takeaways from the program:

1. Building Private Sector Diplomacy.

Diplomacy, the practice of building relationships, continues to be an integral skill for private sector companies, who have emerged as key partners in combating some of the top issues that threaten economic security around the world. In his remarks, the Under Secretary highlighted three key areas of vulnerability that he and his team are working to reduce: energy, critical minerals, and supply chains. These three issues present unique opportunities for collaboration between private sector companies and the U.S. government. The time for action is now to cement public-private partnerships and counteract the top issues of the day. 

2. Envisioning a New Energy Approach

Energy security in Europe is critical to our own security.” Under Secretary Fernandez began his remarks by highlighting one of the top issues he and his team are focused on. The brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to destabilize economic security in Europe and across the world. Putin’s weaponization of energy has made it clearer now more than ever – fossil fuels cannot be solely relied upon to power our energy needs. Under Secretary Fernandez underscored the need to champion the transition to renewable energy resources. This effort will be vital to ensuring the future of our economic security.  

3. Carving Out a Plan for Critical Minerals. 

Imperative to a renewable energy transition are key critical minerals like lithium which power wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries. With the U.S. not being a major producer of some critical minerals, the Under Secretary highlighted ways he and his team are working to combat this gap in resources - one example being the Mineral Security Partnership launched in June. With demand projected to expand significantly in the coming years, the State Department will focus its efforts on boosting regional supply chains and partner with the private sector to bolster critical mineral reserves.  

4. Securing our Supply Chains. 

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a disruption to supply chains worldwide. Under Secretary Fernandez spoke on the work being done between the private sector and his office to build a more resilient supply chain, one that will build upon lessons learned from the pandemic. The Under Secretary pointed to the Supply Chain Ministerial Forum in July, co-hosted by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo as part of ongoing effort to identify solutions with key partner nations.  

5. U.S. Leadership will be Critical for Upcoming Multilateral Forums.  

Upcoming multilateral forums and regional mechanisms will provide ample opportunities to work with allies and partners on these pressing vulnerabilities. Approaching meetings like the African Leaders Summit, APEC, and IPEF will all be conducive avenues to demonstrate robust U.S. leadership.  In all of these discussions, it will be important to feature the unique perspectives of private sector companies in these far-ranging discussions – a perspective that Under Secretary Fernandez described as "[v]ital for domestic and international growth." Global engagement is integral to form strong partnerships and build consensus to advance international economic security. 

The Under Secretary's full remarks can be found HERE

Project summary

Meridian Corporate Council Annual Meeting with Under Secretary of State, Jose W. Fernandez | November 2022
Number of Attendees: 30
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Energy and the Environment
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Private Sector