His Excellency, the CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque,
His Excellency, the CARICOM Assistant Secretary General for Foreign and Community Relations, Ambassador Colin Granderson,
Distinguished Members of the CARICOM Secretariat,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The United States of America and the nations of the Caribbean have a long history of cooperation on issues critical to the security and prosperity of the Western Hemisphere. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to build upon that history as the U.S. Secretary of State’s Representative to the Caribbean Community. While Rosaura and I have only been in the Caribbean for a brief period of time, we have already been impressed by the warm reception that we have received here in Guyana, and we are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to visit other CARICOM member states.
The unique history, geography, and biodiversity of the CARICOM region create opportunities for regional development. As an organization, CARICOM has already begun through the Treaty of Chaguaramas to take advantage of these opportunities with the creation of a common market and economy. I believe that continued progress towards the broader goal of full regional economic integration will ultimately enhance both prosperity and security in the region and simultaneously lay the groundwork for CARICOM to engage more broadly in trade and development matters at both the regional and international levels. As a long-standing partner the United States is committed to continuing both to support these regional organization goals and to develop a robust trade and investment relationship with CARICOM through our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Equally, the United States is committed to working closely with CARICOM’s Specialized Agencies to advance our shared goal of combatting organized crime operating within the region. 2015 marked the five-year anniversary of our joint collaboration under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. Already we have seen clearly the benefits of this initiative both in terms of reducing narcotics flows through the Caribbean region and in enhancing the personal security of the citizens of Caribbean nations. As was made clear in the U.S.-Caribbean Security Summit in the Bahamas, we should redouble our efforts moving forward in order to ensure that together we can build greater security throughout the Western Hemisphere.
2015 also saw President Obama’s historic meeting with CARICOM Heads of State and Government in Jamaica — a meeting that signaled the United States’ intention to deepen even further our cooperation with the Caribbean. Through the new Regional Energy Task Force, we are looking to revitalize cooperation between American and Caribbean private sector investors in order to address the serious energy and environmental challenges facing this region. Our success in developing sustainable sources of renewable energy through this program will be critical not only to the economic development of the Caribbean region but also to combatting Global Climate Change and ensuring our children’s and grandchildren’s security and prosperity.
Your Excellency, over the coming years, I look forward to continuing the close collaboration between the United States of America and the Caribbean Community as we strive towards our shared goal of a democratic, secure and prosperous Caribbean and Western Hemisphere.
Thank you very much.