U.S. Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean

US and CARICOM Flags at NYSE

Caribbean 2020: A Multi-Year Strategy To Increase the Security, Prosperity, and Well-Being of the People of the United States and the Caribbean

The Caribbean region is the United States’ “third border,” characterized by common interests and societal ties that yield daily, tangible benefits for U.S. citizens. The United States is the primary trading partner for the Caribbean, representing a vibrant economic partnership that in 2016 saw a $4.6 billion trade surplus for the United States, 14 million U.S. tourist visits, and 11,042 Caribbean students studying in the United States. We also face many common threats across the region. Small, but significant, numbers of violent extremists from the region have joined ISIS. Caribbean countries have some of the highest murder rates in the world. Rising crime and endemic corruption threaten governments’ ability to provide security and good governance. They also drive irregular migration to the United States. As the United States works to secure its southern border, we should prepare for transnational criminal organizations to shift more of their operations to the Caribbean as a transit point for drugs, migrants, weapons, and other illicit activity.

This strategy, coordinated with the interagency, identifies the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development’s priorities for United States engagement with the Caribbean region in the areas of security, diplomacy, prosperity, energy, education, and health. On security, we will work with our Caribbean partners to ensure ISIS is denied a foothold in the region, dismantle illicit trafficking networks, enhance maritime security, confront violent and organized crime, and increase the sharing of threat information among countries. Our diplomacy will both raise the political level of our dialogue with the Caribbean and focus it more tightly on this strategy’s six priorities. We will increase our own and our neighbors’ prosperity by promoting sustainable growth, open markets for U.S. exports, and private sector-led investment and development. On energy, exports of U.S. natural gas and the use of U.S. renewable energy technologies will provide cleaner, cheaper alternatives to heavy fuel oil and lessen reliance on Venezuela.

On education, we will focus our resources on exchanges and programs for students, scholars, teachers, and other professionals that provide mutual benefits to U.S. and Caribbean communities and promote economic development and entrepreneurship. In the area of health, we will continue to partner with countries in the region in the fight against infectious diseases, like HIV/AIDS and Zika, recognizing deadly pathogens are threats that know no borders.

Read more at: US State Department

CIMH workshops focus on forecasting, impact of climate change

Representatives from across various sectors in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will on Friday 2 June, wrap up meetings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that focused on forecasting and the impact of climate change of sectors including health, tourism, agriculture and energy.

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) held the 2017 Wet Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) workshops with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada. In addition to the Forum, the final two days of the week-long workshops focused on the Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean (BRCCC) Programme’s Early Warning Information Systems Across Climate Timescaes (EWISACTS).

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves addressed participants on Wednesday morning. In his wide-ranging address, he reflected on the impact of natural disasters on the small states of the Caribbean, and the level of funding that was required to recover from them. He said that the Region had a responsibility to adapt to climate change and to continue to pursue efforts to mitigate its effects. He praised the CIMH for its work and pointed out that the certainty of climates of the past was no longer applicable, hence the science of meteorology was necessary.

He urged participants not to “take storms for granted” and to ensure that the best was done to “prepare yourselves”.


Controlling spread of infectious diseases key to regional health security

Participants at the meeting
Participants at the meeting

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. May 25, 2017.    “We live in a global village where situations related to health security impact us and we in turn can have an impact on the world. Therefore, we see keeping residents and visitors in the Caribbean region safe by controlling the spread of infectious diseases as key to regional health security.”

These were the words of Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), as he spoke at the Opening Ceremony of the  meeting coordinated by the Agency.

The two-day meeting held from 9-10 May, 2017, at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, brought together participants from CARPHA Member States, regional and international organisations to discuss the implementation of a Regional roadmap for health security. The Draft Caribbean Region Global Health Security Agenda Five-Year Roadmap (2017-2021), was developed at the Global Health Security Agenda Caribbean Roadmap Workshop which was held in Miami, Florida, in November 2016.  (more…)

Tackling NCDs

Seven Caribbean countries are on course to achieve the global target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for reducing the number of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, Dr. Alafia Samuels, said Tuesday.

She was at the time delivering an address at a sub-regional workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel, Bridgetown, Barbados.

According to the Barbados Today media house, Dr. Samuels reported that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States, The Bahamas, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and CARICOM Associate Members, the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, were on course to reduce their total number of NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025, while the rate of mortality was on the rise in other countries.

“So there are actually countries in the Caribbean where the mortality rate is increasing. In most countries it is decreasing, but there are a couple where it is increasing. And major contributors to these disparities have been trends in stroke and ischaemic heart disease and diabetes,” the media house quoted Dr. Samuels as saying.

Roots and tubers: A potential cash cow in the Caribbean

Slimdown 360’s instant mash products have a shelf life of 1 year (Photo via Spore)
Slimdown 360’s instant mash products have a shelf life of one year (Photo via Spore)

Root and tuber crops (RTCs) such as arrowroot, cassava, dasheen, eddoe, ginger, sweet potato, tania and yam are farmed throughout the Caribbean and remain a staple of traditional diets. Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and some eastern Caribbean countries are self-sufficient in RTCs with Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines leading regional exports.

However, with the capacity to create value-added products for local consumption and export, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has identified cassava, sweet potato and yam with the highest potential for development.

RTC crops can withstand up to 98 per cent of hurricane disasters and have good potential even as regional climate patterns change, as planting material can be sourced locally, and farmers are familiar with RTC production. RTCs are also valued for their ‘good’ complex carbohydrates, which provide better glycemic indices (food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar), compared to imported refined carbohydrates; they are also high in dietary fibre and low in calorie count, which are important considerations for health-conscious markets in Europe.

Read more at: SPORE