Amabassador Joseph N. Mondello’s Remarks
AmCham T&T’s H.S.S.E. Conference
Hyatt Regency Port of Spain (POS Ballroom)
Thursday, October 25th, 2018
Patricia Ghany, Chairman of the Board of AmCham T&T
Nirad Tewarie, Chief Executive Officer of AmCham T&T
Members of the AmCham T&T Board of Directors
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
My wife and I are happy and excited as I begin a new challenge as Ambassador of the United States of America to the beautiful Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I am also glad that my first public event in the country is with AmCham T&T. I understand that the relationship between my embassy and AmCham T&T is a strong one, and we are grateful for the partnership.
Since my nomination, I have spoken with many people of Trinidad and Tobago. Quite a few tell me that what the country needs from the United States, more than anything else, is investment—and I completely agree.
Unlike other countries, the United States does not have state-owned enterprises that I can direct to invest in Trinidad and Tobago, and that’s a good thing: For one, firms owned and backed by governments are incompatible to free markets. As we have seen time after time throughout the world, state-owned enterprises invest abroad in ways that are clearly not transparent, clearly not market-driven, and clearly not designed to benefit the people of the countries in which they invest.
Whether in the United States or abroad, the private enterprise that fuels American investment is bound by high ethical and accountability standards. American firms are constantly looking for new investment opportunities. Their decisions are limited only by reasonable projections of reward given the balance of risk.
Although we as a government cannot direct investment your way, what the United States can do is partner with the government and civil society of Trinidad and Tobago to improve the investment climate. Things like corruption, lack of transparency, and needless bureaucracy are all factors that can make potential investment opportunities unattractive, which stifles economic development.
What investors want more than anything else—especially when looking for new markets—are transparency, stability, and predictability. There are many things we can do together in these areas to improve Trinidad and Tobago’s investment environment. Already, the United States is a strong partner in the fight to reduce widespread crime and improve stability—in the last five years alone, the United States has invested nearly 10 million U.S. dollars to build law enforcement and judicial capacity. In addition, we support the government’s work on new procurement legislation and we look forward to its prompt implementation. Transparency in public procurement will foster good faith in the government’s acquisition decisions.
Beyond transparency, stability, and predictability, there are other behaviors that contribute to a climate that is attractive to investment:
• Maintaining a culture of safety,
• Harnessing the power of technology,
• Improving cyber security, and
• Adequately planning to mitigate the impact of environmental disasters.
I am pleased to see AmCham T&T having devoted so much energy over these last two days to these very topics. I congratulate AmCham T&T for this very successful twenty-second annual conference dedicated to important health, safety, security, and environmental issues. Progress on these issues in the weeks, months, and years ahead will undoubtedly benefit Trinidad and Tobago and help make the country a place in which more American firms will want to invest.
I look forward to getting to know you, and continuing our work together. We share the same common objective—to see investments from the United States rise in Trinidad and Tobago. Through our joint efforts, I am confident we can achieve this goal.