Your Excellency, it is my pleasure to join you on this auspicious occasion of the 240th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, and to extend on behalf of Prime Minster, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago, and on my own behalf, warm congratulations on this occasion.
Your Excellency, as you commemorate your first Independence Day as Ambassador of the United States to Trinidad and Tobago, allow me once again to welcome you, Mrs. Estrada and your family to our twin-island nation. I also wish to commend Mrs. Margaret Diop, for her stewardship as Chargé D’Affaires over the past years, and the steps taken to further the bilateral agenda between our two countries.
Trinidad and Tobago and the United States share common values and a commitment to the preservation of democracy, the promotion of human rights and respect for the rule of law. These tenets have guided and reinforced the mutually beneficial relationship between our countries which has spanned more than five decades. Bilateral collaboration between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States is strong and ongoing on a myriad of issues such as education, energy, health, trade and security.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you would be aware that an integral component of Trinidad and Tobago’s development thrust is the diversification of its energy sector through the promotion of wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies. To this end, in 2013, our two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Cooperation on the establishment of a Renewable Energy Research Centre.
In an effort to advance collaboration in this important sector, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, at the invitation of Vice-President Joseph Biden participated in the United States/ Caribbean/ Central America Energy Security Summit, which took place in May of this year, in Washington, D.C. We look forward to working with the United States to treat with the key areas addressed at that Summit.
Trinidad and Tobago, like so many countries in the hemisphere, is committed to reducing criminal activity which can impact negatively on the peace, security and development of our citizens. The United States has been an important partner in this regard on matters pertaining to citizen security, the criminal justice sector, judicial reform, maritime interdiction, technical assistance and the training of military personnel.
We wish to also acknowledge the value of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in strengthening collaboration in security and the valuable Caribbean/ United States Security Forum which was held in the margins of the Energy Security Summit. I also had the opportunity to engage representatives of the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America in May of this year and I look forward to continuing this important dialogue.
The United States remains Trinidad and Tobago’s leading trading partner and represents the single largest source of foreign direct investment. The presence of American companies in this country not only contributes to job creation but many have become household names. Though not on an equal scale, I am pleased to note that Trinidad and Tobago’s products are making their way into the United States market, particularly where there is a large Trinidad and Tobago diaspora – a diaspora which has contributed to the socio-economic and cultural tapestry of the United States. Today across the United States there are American citizens of Trinidad and Tobago heritage who have excelled in the music industry, medicine, education, fashion industry and in the military.
Distinguished guests, I note the celebration of the just concluded Caribbean Heritage Month in acknowledgement of the contribution of the Caribbean diaspora to the development of American society. In this vein, the White House was the venue of one such commemoration on June 22, which featured performances from noted musicians from Trinidad and Tobago. A few days later, on June 27 His Excellency, Brigadier General (ret’d) Anthony Phillips-Spencer, presented his Letters of Credence to President Barack Obama as Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to the United States of America.
Your Excellency, as I conclude, I wish to commend you on your personal commitment to advancing our bilateral agenda. Shortly after your arrival in Trinidad and Tobago you delivered a very inspirational address to the youths of this country at the “Laventille Nights” series. Since then I understand that you have continued your outreach to young persons as part of your wider engagement with Trinidad and Tobago.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure on behalf of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago, and on my own behalf, to extend once again congratulations to the Government and people of the United States of America on their 240th Anniversary of Independence.
May I ask you to raise your glasses in a toast to the Government and people of the United States of America.
I thank you.