Remarks by Ambassador Candace Bond at AMCHAMTT Reception
January 11, 2023
Chief of Mission Residence
Port of Spain
I’m so pleased to host you all so early in this new year! I met some of you in December at my welcome reception and was able to have a wide-ranging conversation with Nirad and Toni the week before Christmas. I was so grateful for the invitation earlier this week to the board’s first meeting of 2023 and I look forward to speaking with more AMCHAM members tonight.
I’ve been in Port of Spain for just about a month and already I can tell 2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year. It will certainly include challenges, some predictable and surely a few that we don’t see coming right now, but if there’s a group that I know will lead the way in navigating those challenges and turning them into opportunities, it is the crowd in this room.
I first want to thank AMCHAMTT leadership and the secretariat for their warm welcome and support for this event. The last ambassadorial reception to recognize the AMCHAM membership took place in 2019 so I have over three years of partnership to honor this evening!
Of course, we know that in that time, our economies have been beset by conditions few would have predicted, and the losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be quantified only by the loss in economic activity.
I know the AMCHAM played a critical role in offering its members’ capabilities in support of the government’s pandemic response. It also made a real difference by collaboration with other private sector organizations to establish a mass vaccination clinic and by offering policy support for many novel issues that the pandemic created.
It is this collaboration and vision for engagement with multiple stakeholders that leads to conditions that benefit society while supporting your respective businesses.
On the subject of collaboration and vision, I would like to share some of the U.S. embassy’s priorities for 2023, highlighting areas where we have collaborated with AMCHAM. Our main objective in Trinidad and Tobago is enhancing citizen security and the rule of law. This is an area where our many law enforcement, military, and international narcotics and law enforcement unit colleagues work tirelessly with Trinbagonian national security agencies to address an issue that touches the lives of all citizens.
Recognizing how corruption and crime raise the cost of doing business and impact the ability to attract foreign investment, I applaud the establishment of AMCHAM’s rule of law committee. I want to thank Nirad, the secretariat, Mr. Clive Fletcher, and the membership of the committee for its launch in 2022.
Another objective for our embassy is more effective, democratic, and accountable government institutions. This also touches on corruption and the importance of institutions that are reflective of, and responsive to the population’s priorities.
Our third priority is increased mutual economic wellbeing and resilience. I could take up your whole night sharing my thoughts on our possibilities here. However, I will focus on trade and on climate change.
AMCHAM’s membership is representative of the ties between the U.S. and Trinbagonian economies. The U.S. remains by far Trinidad and Tobago’s number one trade partner.
In 2022, even with data available only through November, total trade between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago was $8.37 billion U.S. dollars. That’s an increase from the 2021 total of $6.9 billion U.S. dollars, and a value that I am committed to working hard to keep increasing.
This number also represents integrated value. Across critical industries from food to energy, our supply chains are intertwined. Specialized fertilizer produced in Point Lisas allows U.S. farmers to grow crops, some of which return to Trinidad and Tobago as food imports. Similarly, Nu Iron’s direct reduced iron also produced in Point Lisas is shipped to the United States to be turned into world-class steel.
Trinidad and Tobago is also a promising export market for many of our small and medium companies, as my team has shared with me as a result of their export counseling engagements. The U.S. technology, equipment, and services they provide can diversify local retailers’ offerings, add capabilities, and provide high-quality solutions to government needs including digital transformation.
Also on the subject of trade, I’d like to highlight the phenomenal collaboration between the embassy and AMCHAM for the international trade administration’s Caribbean Region Business Conference and Trade Mission. This was the second event in 2022 where we joined forces to attract U.S. companies to Trinidad and Tobago. Those efforts resulted in seven U.S. companies representing both manufacturing and services traveling to Port of Spain to learn first-hand about the opportunities available here.
Moving on to the climate crisis which we know already constrains equitable and inclusive growth. On that front, I have been so pleased to hear about the collaboration between the AMCHAM—and in particular Amerijet, INL, and Tobago’s tourism-oriented police unit to deploy electric bikes and two portable solar-powered e-bike charging stations to demonstrate how joining forces as government and private sector can improve community safety with a sustainable, eco-friendly solution.
Even more recently, Toni and her husband Dina joined me in Laventille for TTPS’s “Christmas on the Hill.” At that wonderful event, AMCHAM’s donation of seedlings demonstrated your sustainable investment in youth and communities.
With this incredible track record of collaboration, I am in listening mode with all of you to learn about your businesses, including the challenges and opportunities available in Trinidad and Tobago. I am eager to understand your constraints and priorities and how we can continue this robust partnership to deliver benefits to our two countries.
With that, I again want to thank the AMCHAM secretariat and leadership, and I invite you all to have a great time this evening!