“I believe that the United States and Caribbean nations do much more together, can do much more together, and importantly should do much more together.”
–U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, January 22, 2020
Secretary Pompeo will travel to Paramaribo, Suriname, on September 17. He will meet with Surinamese President Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi and key members of his cabinet to discuss opportunities to broaden and deepen ties between the United States and Suriname.
A PARTNERSHIP BASED ON SHARED VALUES AND STRATEGIC INTERESTS
The U.S. has had diplomatic relations with Suriname from its independence in 1975. The bilateral relationship is based on shared democratic values, joint economic interests, and strong people-to-people connections.
In May, the people of Suriname voted in free and fair elections, repudiating corruption and signaling they wanted to chart a new path based on transparency, rule of law, and democracy.
The United States supports Suriname’s new direction. We are working hard to identify ways to increase trade and investment, deepen our security relationship, and support Suriname’s economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SAFEGUARDING THE ECONOMY WHILE PROTECTING RESOURCES
The United States stands ready to assist Suriname and its engagement with the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions as it revitalizes its economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and public debt incurred by previous governments.
Recent finds of offshore oil promise future income, but Suriname’s leaders and civil society need to establish sustainable models for extracting natural resources transparently and safely, with the proceeds benefiting the Surinamese people. U.S. investment in Suriname’s gold sector, a chief source of income for the country, offers a model.
The United States is Suriname’s biggest import partner, with more than 25% of Suriname’s imports coming from America’s businesses. In 2018, imports from the U.S. totaled around $388 million, and included poultry, food products, chemicals, petroleum products, electronics supplies, excavating machinery, materials handling equipment, and industrial machines.
In 2018, Suriname exported around $86 million worth of goods to the United States, mainly fish and shrimp products. Together we are working to strengthen Suriname’s ability to fight corruption to ensure all investors and businesses can compete on an even playing field.
U.S. ASSISTANCE TO FIGHT DRUG TRAFFICKING, COMBAT COVID-19
Suriname participates in a number of programs funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) in an effort to end the ability of illicit traffickers to use the country as a waypoint for drugs and other contraband.
Each year, Mission Paramaribo sends 35 Surinamese officials to training sessions at the International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador. Since 2017, more than 100 police officers have attended these U.S. funded training sessions. The Department of State purchased equipment to give Suriname the capability to screen travelers on private and commercial flights in the region improving our region’s security.
The Department of State has supported training for Suriname’s Port Control Unit, which seized more than 3000 kg of cocaine in 2019, including a 2,300 kg seizure, one of the largest in the country’s history.
The U.S. government also committed more than $600,000 towards an anti-money laundering risk assessment, which identifies vulnerabilities in the nation’s anti-money laundering regime and is an essential part of the effort to assist Suriname in meeting regional and international standards.
Most recently, the United States, through USAID, provided $2.2 million in regional support to Caribbean nations to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding has advanced infection control efforts in Suriname by multilateral organizations, including UNICEF.