By Khrisna Russell
Deputy Chief Reporter
DISCUSSIONS are scheduled to take place this week in the country aimed at possibly sparking increased United States Bahamian investment, according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Cynthia Kierscht. She said collaboration and cooperation on this matter is clear and will continue.
The comments came during her readout of the 8th Caribbean-US Security Cooperation Dialogue during a telephone briefing on Friday. “As you are indeed aware, there has been an expanded engagement under this administration with the Caribbean in general and specifically with The Bahamas, with President Trump hosting the leaders of The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and St Lucia at Mar-a-Lago in March and then in April, we invited all of the Caribbean countries to SouthCom where our deputy secretary of state launched the new US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership in Miami with 18 Caribbean governments,” Ms Kierscht said when asked by The Tribune whether the US was planning more outreach and investment in the Caribbean, particularly The Bahamas, to counter China’s investments.
“As I understand, there will be an upcoming visit by OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) to The Bahamas next week even, to discuss potential forms of increased investment and that will hopefully bring new avenues as well.”
“The United States is right now the Caribbean’s primary trading partner, and we understand the mutual benefit of a prosperous Caribbean Basin.
“To that end, we held a Caribbean prosperity roundtable with Caribbean policymakers and members of the US private sector in 2017 to spur investment and address obstacles and opportunities for economic cooperation. We will also be holding a trade fair for the Caribbean next month in Miami. We will continue to engage Caribbean partners to promote sustainable economic policies, private sector led growth and job creation.
“We are also supporting young entrepreneurs through US government exchange programmes including the Young Leaders of the Americas initiative. In 2018, 60 nationals from across the Caribbean participated in the Young Leaders of the Americas initiative engaging with US private and public sector partners and ventures ranging from digital commerce to food and beverage. So, yes, I would say our cooperation and collaboration on these issues is clear and will continue.”
In March, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers said in a statement that leaders should choose “high-quality, transparent, and inclusive foreign investment” and ensure they are getting the best deal for their respective citizens in the long-term.
Her comments came in response to a scathing statement from her counterpart, Chinese Chargé d’Affaires Haigang Yin who accused the US government of trying to “disintegrate solidarity and cooperation between China and other developing countries.” He also slammed the US’ “predatory” label placed on China’s activities in the Caribbean, dismissing it as completely baseless, unreasonable and contradictory to the facts.
The verbal joust also came ahead of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ and other regional leaders’ meeting with US President Donald Trump at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida.
Ms Bowers said at the time: “Economic engagement should meet international best practises in terms of transparency, debt sustainability and the needs and concerns of local communities.
“We encourage all leaders to choose high-quality, transparent, and inclusive foreign investment, and we want to ensure development financing does not result in unsustainable debt. When evaluating types of partnerships and investment relationships, leaders must ensure they are getting the best deal for their country and their people over the long-term.”