June 23, 2021: U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Ian Saunders provided the keynote address for the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AmChamTT) yesterday. Speaking by remote video connection with other thought leaders to an audience of AmchamTT’s 300 members, Mr. Saunders focused on the themes of competitiveness, transparency, and security as pillars that support economic growth and job creation in the United States and in the Caribbean.
The Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary said that the United States acts in its own and in the Caribbean’s best interest when the United States helps neighboring nations build open economies and create opportunity for all of their people. “Let me assure you that the United States will remain a steadfast and committed partner, as we work to move our region towards its enormous potential as an engine of growth, opportunity and poverty reduction for its own citizens and for the global economy,” he said.
Mr. Saunders spoke of the importance of economic engagement between the United States and the Caribbean, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects in terms of lost lives and suffering. In the face of this monumental challenge, he noted that all governments are asking how to deliver prosperity, jobs, and hope for their people.
Mr. Saunders told the AmCham members that the pandemic’s strains on public finances have led to the deferral of public infrastructure projects or worse: caused countries to turn to new sources of debt finance that do not operate with the same transparency as private capital markets. He listed addressing climate change, accelerating energy transition, ensuring security, improving healthcare, and the need to build infrastructure as additional common challenges, noting that governments cannot and should not address these challenges alone.
Mr. Saunders said that the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with U.S. embassies in 14 Caribbean markets, is planning a Caribbean Region Trade Mission and Business Conference for October. The trade mission will connect U.S. companies to opportunities in the Caribbean region, including in Trinidad and Tobago. The “Trade Americas – Business Opportunities in the Caribbean Region Conference” will feature region-specific sessions, and resources on market entry strategies, export compliance, logistics, disaster resilience and recovery, and trade financing. It will also include sessions on financing and legal and transparency issues.