Ambassador Marks said the President’s signing of the new law comes at a significant time for the region, which is facing a correspondent banking crisis, where an increasing number of US banks are disengaging with the region, because of new rules and security concerns.
With the signing of the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (H.R. 4939), which passed the US Senate on Tuesday, the way is now clear for the US Secretary of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to devise a multi-year strategy on issues of critical concern to the region, such as security, energy, diplomacy and increased access to educational opportunities.
'We urge CARICOM to seize the opportunity to put in place a team to examine the new Law and to craft a multi-year strategy that will allow us to increase engagement with the United States in areas of mutual concern," Ambassador Marks said.
The bill was was passed on Tuesday in the Senate, was sponsored by New York Democratic Congressional Representative Eliot L. Engel, ranking member of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign affairs, and South Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a former chair of the committee.
In commenting on the President’s signing of the Bill, Congressman Engle said: “I’m grateful to the President for signing a law I authored with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida aimed at strengthening U.S. engagement in the Caribbean. With so many pressing issues around the globe, it’s important that we not lose sight of what’s going on with some of our closest neighbors.
“This law will require a new, long-term strategy to make sure we’re working closely with Caribbean countries on a range of shared concerns. As this strategy is developed, I will work to ensure it reflects the input of the rich Caribbean diaspora community in the United States.”
Former Chairman of the Committee and co-sponsor of the Bill, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, has hailed President Obama’s signing of the Bill into law. She pointed out that “We must strengthen our relationship with Caribbean nations so that they view the U.S. as a reliable partner. It is vital to work proactively and collaboratively with Caribbean nations to promote close cooperation in the areas of security, trade, illicit trafficking, and energy and I look forward to seeing this important legislation implemented in order to advance our own national security interests.”
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