U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: Latin America Bureau

U.S. Department of State
96/03/04 Remarks: Trinidad/Tobago Point Lisas Industrial Complex
Office of the Spokesman

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman

(Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies)
____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release March 4, 1996

REMARKS BY
PRIME MINISTER BASDEO PANDAY
AMBASSADOR BRIAN DONNELLY
ASSISTANT SECRETARY ALEXANDER WATSON
AND OAS AMBASSADOR HATTIE BABBITT
AT THE POINT LISAS INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

Point Lisas Industrial Complex
Point Lisas
March 4, 1996

PRIME MINISTER PANDAY: Mr. Chairman, Assistant Secretary of State, our kind hosts, Colleagues, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Assistant Secretary, it is indeed a singular privilege and honor for me to add a few words to welcome you to Point Lisas, flagship of our industrialization and development program.

I also wish to take the opportunity to thank you for the complimentary remarks made by the Honorable Secretary of State who unfortunately had to leave us to attend to urgent business at home. I find them most encouraging. Indeed I find it gratifying to learn that your administration is in favor of legislation granting Caribbean Basin Initiative countries expanded trade preferences.

While we await your administration's "fast-tracking" our bid to enter NAFTA we look forward to these new benefits, which we hope will compensate for the erosion of CBI preferences occasioned by the NAFTA Agreement.

We in Trinidad and Tobago have been associated with American investors for decades and following our far-reaching review of our foreign investment policy and legislation, and the liberalization of our trade and investment regime, the list of foreign companies doing business or seeking to do business in Trinidad and Tobago is growing all the time. The United States continues to be the largest and most diversified foreign investor in Trinidad and Tobago. Apart from being major investors in the petroleum, natural gas and petrochemical sectors of our economy, U.S. companies are involved in the manufacturing and services sectors in areas such as hotels, banking and transportation, to name a few.

I understand that Trinidad and Tobago ranks second only to Canada on a per capita basis in terms of U.S. foreign investment and is among the top 12 countries in the world in this regard, We appreciate this confidence that the United States investors are demonstrating in the future of our country. Indeed, we expect an early conclusion to negotiations for projects in which substantial investment by United States companies is anticipated. One may well ask what is it that attracts so many U.S. investors to Trinidad and Tobago. Our assets include many ingredients. A stable democracy, a highly skilled and literate population, a very open and liberalized economy, a well developed infrastructure, highly competitive (inaudible) of production and other comparative advantages, for example, a highly skilled labor force, a healthy industrial relations climate and an abundance of relatively inexpensive energy. In addition, Trinidad and Trinidad is ideally geographically situated. Moreover our size, stage of development and the vibrancy of our people provide added attraction for the potential investor. It is therefore not surprising that United States investors have been attracted to these shores, after all, although we are a much younger nation in terms of our respective years of independence, we have a legacy of common historical ties and experiences. We speak the same language, we share the same legal systems, we cherish the same values and respect the basic human rights and freedoms of our citizens and we too are a melting pot of peoples from many different regions of the world.

Our trade statistics show clearly that the United States is our largest market for goods and services and also our largest supplier. About 41 per cent of our visible exports go to the United States and about 49 per cent of our imports come from there. In the context of the United States-Trinidad and Tobago relations, we have a number of important multilateral and bilateral agreements which enhance the investment climate. We have already negotiated a Tax Information Exchange Agreement, a Double Taxation Agreement, a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and a Bilateral Intellectual Property Rights Agreement. We are also actively participating in the preparatory process of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the FTAA, which we do hope to realize by the year 2005. Like your country, we also attach great significance to the rights of workers and likewise to the environment. We endeavor to operate a tripartite system whereby labor, employers and government work together to ensure that the interest of the country is paramount and pursued in harmony.

In relation to the environment, we have recently passed an Environment Management Act and constituted an Environmental Management Agency, the EMA. The EMA is currently engaged in the process of submitting subsidiary legislation to ensure that the various economic activities in the country are compatible with the needs for sustainable development.

All in all, Mr. Assistant Secretary, the prospects for even more fruitful cooperation between our two countries are clearly excellent. Your visit has further enhanced these prospects in very concrete ways and for this I thank you and the members of your delegation.

Let me close, Assistant Secretary Watson, by expressing my personal appreciation for the visit of the Secretary of State and for the cordial interaction which we have had and which I am sure will rebound to the mutual benefit of both our countries. Thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR BRIAN DONNELLY: Mr. Prime Minister, distinguished members of the Cabinet, Members of Parliament, Assistant Secretary Watson, Ambassador Babbitt, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; it gives me great pleasure to welcome you this morning to this ceremony on behalf of the Government of the United States. It is regrettable that Secretary Christopher had to shorten his program in Trinidad and Tobago due to the situation in the Middle East. The Prime Minister and myself have just seen him off at the airport. I can assure you that he was very sorry that be was not able to be here in person. He asked me to convey his personal regrets and, at the same time, his best wishes for the continued success of this AmCham and for the success of the ceremony this morning.

However, we are very fortunate to have Assistant Secretary of State, Alexander Watson, here with us this morning. In addition, Ambassador Hattie Babbitt, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, has also agreed to stay here in Trinidad and Tobago and to speak with you this afternoon. It has actually been a long time indeed since the U.S. Embassy has been able to welcome such a high- powered and senior delegation to Trinidad and Tobago, a country with which we have enjoyed close political, economic and cultural ties since its independence. Their presence here today underlines the importance the United States places on its relationship with Trinidad and Tobago.

This relationship, while always cordial, has received a substantial boost in recent years from our growing commercial ties. Since 1990, Trinidad and Tobago has sent 48 percent of its exports to the U.S. and, in turn, the United States has supplied well over 40 percent of Trinidad's imports, and that figure is growing rapidly. On the investment side the figures are even more impressive. Outsiders who don't know Trinidad and Tobago might find it hard to believe that by one measure Trinidad now ranks second in the hemisphere in per capita U.S. direct investment, and in the top twelve of countries worldwide. I might also add that Trinidad and Tobago is near the top in the hemisphere in per capita GDP and in international credit rating.

The main reason for this success is simple - and one that the United States has been preaching for many years: sound macroeconomic policies leading to a positive investment climate and a liberal trade regime. Trinidad and Tobago has benefited from this, the region has benefitted from this, and the United States has benefitted from this policy. We are delighted that the government of Prime Minister Panday has endorsed these policies.

The Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994 institutionalized these changes by bringing together for the first time the leaders of every democratically elected nation in this hemisphere, in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation. As the Summit recognized, for the first time in history a new consensus of the Americas has been formed. Open markets work. Democratic governments are just. And together, they offer the best hope for people's lives.

At the Summit, hemispheric leaders called for increased development of energy sectors. Not in a blind race for increased energy production at any cost, but in a sustainable manner friendly to the environment. Improved access to clean, economic, market-priced energy sources is a critical aspect of hemispheric development. The Summit also recognized the need to increase trade and financing that can affect large energy investments. The financing many of the firms represented here today have used are good examples.

Leaders at the Summit recognized that universal access to safe, clean economical and environmentally-sound energy is a critical building block for national sustainable development. So it is indeed fitting for representatives of the U.S. government to come together here at Point Lisas Industrial Estate with the leaders of Trinidad and Tobago's government, energy sector and industry. I hope our presence here today will advance our common goals - U.S. investments here in T&T.

Around you are Arcadian's three ammonia plants and (inaudible) plant. Behind me you may not be able to see, but there is Nuror's Iron Carbide plant . Close by lies the site of a proposed Cleveland Cliffs iron carbide plant and of a methanol plant by the Saturn Corporation. Further south in the estate, Phoenix Park has an important gas processing plant, and further down the coast in La Brea, Mississippi Chemical is close to breaking ground on its (inaudible) plant. Finally, Atlantic LNG has selected Point Fortin for the site of its liquified natural gas plant, a total investment of about 1.4 billion U.S. dollars. And this is not to speak of Amoco's huge investment in oil and gas production and exploration, and similar efforts by Enron, Texaco, Conoco and other U.S. firms. When you add up all the U.S. companies selling and producing products in Trinidad and Tobago - from IBM and Coca Cola to Colgate Palmolive - the TT business directory really reads like the who's who of corporate America.

So the future of economic relations between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago looks very bright indeed. I can promise you that the United States Embassy in Port of Spain will foster that relationship wherever possible. This is one of the main reasons for Secretary of State Christopher's visit to Trinidad and Tobago, and this is the reason for the presence this morning of the Assistant Secretary of State, Alexander Watson.

Alexander Watson is one of our most distinguished diplomats in the United States. He has enjoyed a 34-year career in the Department of State, serving in the Dominican Republic, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia.

He has been our Ambassador to Peru and was the United States Deputy Representative to the United Nations. Since 1993 he has been the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, and, as such, oversees U.S. relations with all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Ladies and gentleman, I am extremely honored and humbled to present to you this morning, Assistant Secretary of State, the Honorable Alex Watson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY ALEXANDER F. WATSON: Mr., Prime Minister, Ambassador Donnelly, Ambassador Babbitt. Ministers and other distinguished Members of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Ambassador McKnight, President Evans, Mr. McMinn, ladies and gentlemen: I know that despite that warm welcome, you are all disappointed that Secretary Christopher is not here. He too, is disappointed, but events in the Middle East made it necessary for him to return home. I am very glad to be here today for this ceremony highlighting American investments in Trinidad and Tobago. Ambassador Babbitt's and my presence here is a tribute to Trinidad's record of sound economic policies and the interest of American investors in the Caribbean.

Bold economic reforms have given Trinidad the region's most liberal trade and investment policies and an outstanding investment climate. Substantial increases in trade and investment have made it the biggest market of the region and brought the quadrupling of U.S. investment over the last four years.

The American investment we are highlighting was attracted by these policies. The 280-million U.S. dollar Arcadian ammonia plant, which we will be inaugurating, is only one of these investments. There are many other projects in the pipeline, including the Atlantic LNG plant, and major petrochemical investments by Saturn, Cleveland Cliffs, and Farmland MissChem, not to mention ongoing investments by Nucor, Amoco, Enron, Texaco, Conoco and others mentioned by Ambassador Donnelly. Trinidad and Tobago has, in fact become one of the top U.S. investment sites in the hemisphere. This brings substantial revenue to the government of Trinidad, and helps create jobs and support industries.

The Clinton administration is committed to advancing the interests of American workers, exporters, and investors as we work to develop more open trade and investment relations with the countries of the Caribbean. From the most senior adviser to the most junior career officer, my colleagues at the State Department know there is no more important task than sitting behind what Secretary Christopher calls the "America Desk", shorthand for our effort to ensure that our business people can compete and win on a level, fair, and open playing field.

American business has made a good start here in Trinidad. We will make more strides together as we work toward the goals of the Summit of the Americas, including a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. And the Clinton Administration will shortly introduce legislation to provide the Caribbean Basin Initiative countries with expanded trade preferences, ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago industry can continue to thrive as regional trade develops.

The people of Trinidad have brought pragmatism and flexibility to the challenges of developing a strong economy in the age of globalization. Your efforts have paid off in a climate that encourages foreign investment and industrial diversification, while permitting attention to other concerns, like the environment. As President Clinton has said, we do not have to accept the false choice between development and protecting the environment. One good example of this is the Point a Pierre Wildfowl Trust just south of here. To find a 60-acre bird sanctuary right next to Trinidad's major refinery really highlights how industrial development can coexist with environmental protection.

Economic development must be sustainable, especially in an island country. Consuming our ecological capital would be a bankrupt economic strategy. American corporations, including many of those represented here today, are world leaders protecting the environment and in the development and use of environmental technology, demonstrating that production techniques can be adapted to minimize damage to the environment.

Trinidad is blessed with unique biological diversity, from sea turtles to rare species of birds and plants. This is not only your heritage, but also the world's heritage, as demonstrated by the increasing number of ecotourists visiting your islands. I wish your new Environmental Management Agency well in preserving your riches.

The partnership between entrepreneurs and officials in both the United States and Trinidad has created jobs and opportunities for U.S. companies and workers. It is helping Trinidad's economy thrive and making it an increasingly important partner of the United States. I look forward, as we develop free and fair trade throughout the hemisphere, to making those partnerships even stronger.

Thank you again for having me here today.

AMBASSADOR HATTIE BABBITT: Mr. Prime Minister, distinguished members of the government, ladies and gentlemen: Assistant Secretary Watson and Ambassador Donnelly have highlighted the impressive record of investment and economic cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States. I would like to expand on that theme and address hemispheric integration in general - an issue with which I have been involved at the Organization of American States - and energy issues in particular - since we are here at Point Lisas.

Pursuing economic integration in the hemisphere is one of President Clinton's priority goals. The President has pursued a building block process, one step at a time, which has added up to a comprehensive strategy to defeat protectionist instincts in our country. By maintaining high external barriers, governments do not lock out problems; rather they lock up their own citizens' talents and initiative. With the help of creative, resourceful, and forward looking government leaders and private-sector investors, like those assembled here today, all the nations of the region will succeed.

We have truly embarked upon a historic period in hemispheric relations. When historians look back on the 1990's, they will be struck by the ongoing, quiet revolution which has occurred to bring about systems of governance and economies which increase individual freedoms and support the dignity of the person. Voters and consumers are now king. Choice fostered by free market competition - both political and economic - is leading to increased prosperity throughout the hemisphere.

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