President Santokhi, AMCHAM Chair Anuskha Sonai, distinguished members of the American Chamber of Commerce, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. It is a pleasure for me to be here to speak about the U.S.-Suriname business relationship. I am especially pleased that we are tonight celebrating AMCHAM Suriname’s 21st birthday. 21 years ago I had just arrived at the Embassy and heard about plans to set up Suriname’s AMCHAM from Ambassador Dan Johnson. I questioned whether there was enough of a demand or American presence here, and Dan was adamant that Suriname needed an AMCHAM to work with the Embassy to promote, trade, commerce, tourism and investment in order to contribute to Suriname’s economic and social prosperity. So congratulations on your 21st year. Ambassador Johnson would be very proud.
The Biden Administration believes that a vibrant private sector is essential in a healthy democracy. As Secretary Blinken noted in a recent speech, the United States seeks a world where the global economy is defined by fair competition, openness, and transparency. A world where prosperity is measured not only in how much countries’ economies grow, but also how many people share in that growth.
The U.S. vision is about economic growth that generates a race to the top. A race to the top in labor and environmental standards. A race to the top in health and education services, and in infrastructure and technology equity. A race to the top to provide security and opportunity for all.
Democratic governments must make difficult decisions to create such an environment. This is as true for the United States as it is for Suriname. But please rest assured that the United States will stand beside Suriname as it takes difficult decisions to restructure the debt, cool inflation, and reduce the risk of money laundering. We support Suriname as it works to create those conditions that help you do business.
As an Embassy, we are working to improve the business climate. We support business programs by the United States Administration for International Development. As an Embassy, we facilitate Information sharing among the members of the recently re-launched Overseas Security Advisory Council. And I encourage all of you here tonight to consider joining that Council.
As an Embassy, we are working to bring more U.S. companies here. Just this month, our officers have spoken with almost 100 companies in the United States who are interested in doing business in Suriname. We are working to introduce U.S. companies to potential partners in Suriname.
Our goal in all of this is transparent: it is to bring U.S. products and services to Suriname to help Surinamese companies grow and prosper.
U.S. companies are looking for modern markets to enter. For that to occur, they expect certain conditions to be met. They expect banking to be easy. They expect electronic payment systems. They expect transparent processes to register a business, get a residency permit, receive a labor permit, and open a bank account.
We are working with Suriname to get there. We have sent more than 22 Surinamese officials to training on business-related topics. We are helping industry and government officials understand how the U.S. and global markets works. And next month, we are proud to partner with AmCham on an event on eCommerce, which is the future for us all.
We are doing this because we think growing Suriname’s private sector is critical to provide high quality jobs in the formal sector for the work force. We believe that by harnessing local creative talent, your companies can grow. And when your company is ready, the Embassy can help you do business in the United States.
Modern trade agreements and access to the U.S. market—which is a $26 trillion market—require that our trade partners respect intellectual property rights, protect the environment, prevent child labor, and institute modern customs practices to prevent illegal goods from entering the U.S. market. And we are committed to helping Suriname on all those goals.
So now let me congratulate AmCham on its 21st birthday. I want to stress that Since Ambassador Dan Johnson first had the idea, we see AmCham as our partner with the Surinamese business community and the Surinamese government. Let me close by saluting Suriname’s strong, vibrant, and exemplary American Business Community that is so well represented by those of you who are here tonight.
Congratulations and Thank you.