Mexico president-elect taps Merkel know-how on renewable energy

BERLIN Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:53pm BST

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto sought advice on Thursday on how to develop his country's renewable energy sector from Germany, a world pioneer in the sector.

Pena Nieto, who takes office in December, kicked off a tour of European capitals by discussing clean energy production, the euro zone crisis and other issues with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Mexico needs to increase its presence in this area, it needs to develop models of non-polluting, renewable generation of energy and I believe Germany's experience makes it a world leader," said the 46-year-old Mexican president-in-waiting.

Germany has a robust system of so-called "feed-in tariff" subsidies which have helped it reach the point where 25 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind, photovoltaic or solar energy and biogas.

Merkel, a former environment minister, made a major U-turn on energy policy last year by deciding to accelerate Germany's exit from nuclear power, after the Fukushima disaster.

This has left her government struggling to provide a clear alternative and industry has warned of power shortages.

Pena Nieto's July election victory will bring back to power the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which ruled Mexico for an unbroken 71 years until it was defeated in 2000.

He has promised to reinvigorate the Mexican economy with labor market reforms and by allowing state oil monopoly Pemex to compete in the private sector. In the campaign he even spoke about a future stock market listing for Pemex.

Mexico relies on oil revenues to fund around a third of its federal budget.

The president-elect was due to meet German business leaders on Friday before travelling on to Madrid, Paris and London.

Pena Nieto said he told Merkel of his interest in extending free trade "and encouraging a financial architecture that will, above all, help economic and financial stability and permit a greater presence of Mexican goods in the rest of the world".

They also discussed the euro zone debt crisis, with the Mexican president-elect expressing praise for the centre-right German chancellor's leadership role in the European Union.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Gareth Jones and Robin Pomeroy)

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