the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: United States Support for Economic Growth and Development in the Caribbean

In his meeting today with 15 Presidents, Prime Ministers and other senior ministry officials from the Caribbean region, Vice President Biden discussed the United States’ commitment to deepening economic collaboration and expanding prosperity and social inclusion in the region.  The leaders also discussed citizen security cooperation and the importance of building safe communities that contribute to a favorable business and investment climate.   

The United States supports the region’s economic growth and social inclusion efforts through multiple, complementary programs that contribute to: building strong, capable and transparent institutions; facilitating trade and creating favorable business and investment climates; expanding access to reliable, clean, and affordable energy; and investing in human capital so that citizens are prepared to contribute to the development of their communities.

During his visit to Trinidad and Tobago, Vice President Biden signed the United States – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on behalf of the United States.  President Martelly of Haiti, serving in his capacity as Chair of CARICOM, signed on behalf of the 15 member states.  The Agreement provides a strategic framework and principles for dialogue on trade and investment issues of mutual interest.  The TIFA establishes the United States – CARICOM Trade and Investment Council that will guide implementation of the Agreement.

During bilateral meetings between Vice President Biden and Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago, the two leaders discussed a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance cooperation on the scientific, technical, and policy aspects of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.  The MOU establishes a Renewable Energy Research Centre to promote the rapid deployment of critical technologies for renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment in the Caribbean. 

Other examples of U.S. economic and development activities in the Caribbean include:

Facilitating Trade and Creating Favorable Business and Investment Climates

  • In 2012, U.S. imports from Caribbean countries under the Caribbean Basin Initiative totaled more than $11 billion, representing a 178 percent increase over the past decade.  U.S. exports equaled nearly $12 billion, representing a 133 percent increase over the past decade.
  • In 2012, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) committed more than $44 million in loans and guarantees that supported an energy project off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago and a solar power generation system in Barbados.
  • The Organization of American States and the University of Texas at San Antonio, with funding from the State Department, are supporting the adaptation of the U.S. Small Business Center model in five Caribbean countries, which includes Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Dominica.  Institutions that support small and medium enterprises will be strengthened in order to provide better services to SMEs with the objective to generate more jobs in the Caribbean and facilitate greater regional trade, including with the U.S. and Latin America.
  • The United States has concluded Open Skies Air Transport Agreements with six CARICOM members.  Open Skies agreements greatly increase options for airlines, passengers, and shippers and help promote increased travel and trade, enhance productivity, and spur high-quality job opportunities and economic growth. 

Expanding Access to Reliable, Clean, and Affordable Energy:

  • Under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), the Department of Energy is engaging the Caribbean hotel and hospitality sector to shape a greener energy market by embracing energy efficient and renewable energy technology solutions and supporting government efforts to advance clean energy policies.
  • Connecting the Americas 2022, an ECPA initiative, has supported Ministerial-level public/private dialogues for reducing Caribbean dependency on imported fossil fuels for power generation, which contributes to the Caribbean paying among the world’s highest electricity prices.  Donors have funded six analytical and pre-feasibility studies exploring the commercial and technical viability of inter-island interconnections that could facilitate renewable energy development, particularly geothermal in the Eastern Caribbean.  State’s Power Sector Program will provide technical assistance to advance geothermal and inter-island connections in the Caribbean and is in discussions with Caribbean officials regarding specific areas of technical cooperation in support of Connect 2022.  Leaders will next meet during the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum in October 2013 to discuss potential gas and renewables expansion.
  • The State Department in partnership with Purdue University, also under ECPA, is collaborating with Partners of the Americas and the University of the West Indies to develop solar energy demonstration projects and a business plan competition to support further development of solar technologies in the Caribbean.
  • The Organization of American States (OAS), with funding from the State Department, has worked in six Caribbean countries to support renewable energy demonstration projects, technical assistance toward energy policy implementation, and a feasibility study on possible electricity interconnection between St. Kitts and Nevis and Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth.  Participating countries include Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and St. Kitts & Nevis.

Building Strong, Capable and Transparent Institutions

  • The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is implementing numerous public sector budget transparency, budget execution and tax administration initiatives in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.  In Jamaica, USAID partnered with the Customs Department and Tax Administration on programs that have reduced drug trafficker’s abilities to move money and contraband through the region.
  • Treasury provides technical experts in tax administration, debt and financial management that are embedded in relevant finance ministries. There are currently 10 advisors in the Caribbean.
  • From 2009-2013, the Department of Agriculture sponsored 75 Cochran Fellows from the Caribbean (including the Dominican Republic) offering training in areas such as food safety, laboratory procedures, and animal health.
  • Department of Labor assists Haitian apparel producers in complying with national and international labor standards so that they remain eligible for tariff benefits under U.S. preferential trade programs.  A component of this project focuses on building the capacity of Haiti’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs so that this institution can more effectively carry out its role in enforcing labor law and advising producers and foreign investors on applicable legal frameworks for operating businesses in Haiti.

Investing in Human Capital:

  • The Inter-American Foundation’s active portfolio in the Caribbean comprises 21 grants, with the IAF’s investment leveraging an equal amount of funding from grantees and other partners. Grants support human capital and citizen-led initiatives in communities in Haiti, Belize, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic in the areas of crop diversification, sustainable agricultural practices, and education for vulnerable populations.
  • The State Department, in a partnership with the OAS, supports The Inter-American Social Protection Network, which enables countries to share pioneering social protection strategies to fight poverty and strengthen safety nets for their most vulnerable and indigent citizens. 
  • USAID is supporting early grade reading, vocational training for at-risk youth in the Dominican Republic, Eastern Caribbean, and Jamaica, and disaster risk reduction activities throughout the Caribbean that are aimed at saving lives, alleviating human suffering and reducing the social and economic impacts of natural disasters.
  • On May 14, the Department of Labor announced a new competitive solicitation for a $10 million cooperative agreement for a project in the Dominican Republic that aims to support the Dominican Republic’s efforts to reduce child labor and improve working conditions in the agricultural sector, including in the sugarcane sector and in production supply chains.
  • The Department of Labor is also supporting research and capacity building activities to address child labor in over 40 countries, including the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as part of a four-year, $15 million project with the ILO.
  • Peace Corps volunteers in ten countries in the Western Hemisphere, including the Dominican Republic and Suriname, train volunteers and community partners on climate change, natural resource management, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies, as well as mitigation and adaptation to climate change.  To date over 8,000 citizens in the region have directly benefited from Peace Corps volunteers.