Ambassador's Reception 2024 - U.S. Ambassador's Speech



My dear friends, I can’t help but think back to this very same date exactly a year ago. Can you all believe it??? It’s been a year to the day from when we gathered here for this same event!

And what a year it’s been! If it feels like it passed quickly for any of you, my congratulations! I would absolutely not say the same, but mostly that’s due to how action-packed a year it was for us at the embassy.

Some of you might remember that I told you last year that I was committed to doing the work to ensure the ties between our countries not only remained strong, but that they became even deeper and broader.  

Today I’m so proud to briefly summarize some of the ways we accomplished that goal in 2023.  

I’ll start with what will eventually be one of the most tangible symbols of the strong relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.  

Last year, we concluded negotiations for the property that will one day be our new embassy home. There is no more visible sign of the United States’ commitment to Trinidad and Tobago than our embassy, and moving four facilities throughout Port of Spain into one location will better reflect that commitment.  

We are putting down roots in a world-class, state-of-the-art, green facility that will so much better serve those who have business to conduct with the United States government in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Next, I’ll take us all back to a real highlight of my time in Trinidad and Tobago: the secretary of state and congressional delegation visits in July for Caricom’s 50th anniversary.  

I would be up here all night if I started listing all of the V.I.P.s who came to Port of Spain in early July, but I’ll stick with highlighting that a bipartisan group of seven Members of Congress led by the democratic leader of the house, and my dear friend, Hakeem Jeffries, spent an action-packed two days in Port of Spain.  

One of their highlights was the opportunity to engage the AMCHAM membership since they are all so invested in strengthening trade and commerce between our countries.

I was just in Washington last month and can confirm that congressional support for a strong bilateral relationship is a top concern for many of our legislators. I also had the opportunity to speak with the Eximbank, interagency partners, and the vice president. Without going too far into details yet, do know that 2024 should propel our engagement on shared priorities such as citizen security, addressing the climate crisis, and economic partnership further than ever. 

Finally, I’ll address perhaps the most critical economic achievement for our two countries that took place in 2023: the dragon ofac license.  

I have to tell you all, i put in an amount of work that you wouldn’t believe to get that over the finish line. And that was in January. I thought we were over that hill and we could ride off into the sunset.  

But I was wrong! Instead, the issue again cropped up, requiring a strong partnership between our governments, and another big lift by so many. And we did it! We know the fruits of that work are still years away and additional challenges might crop up here and there. But I also know that our shared visions of energy security and regional stability provide a strong foundation to face any new hurdles that might materialize. 

Overall, my experience here as Ambassador has made me realize that our work is never done. Across issues as diverse as trade, ensuring protection and humane treatment for migrants, and improving citizen security, we have achieved progress. But we still have more work ahead.

Turning now to my vision for 2024, I’ll start by recognizing that my experience in Trinidad and Tobago represents a tiny fraction of the time and effort that all of you make to improve this country in your professional and private capacities. I know that I’m looking at some of the leading forces, whether within the government or in support of it, to address the many ways Trinidad and Tobago can achieve more of the potential we all know exists here.

Our efforts in 2024 will further advance key Biden-Harris administration regional and global goals such as supporting the rule of law, increased trade and economic engagement, and through the U.S.-Caribbean partnership to address the climate crisis 2030 (pacc2030) accelerating regional efforts at mitigating and building resilience to the effects of climate change.

I know I’m also preaching to the choir when I tell this audience that we know so many of our shared objectives are interrelated or reflect cross-cutting themes. One of those themes is the rule of law, since it not only has an impact on safe communities and controlling borders but also sets the conditions for easier yet secure trade and a more competitive investment climate. Those conditions benefit foreign companies and investors, but also ensure that local companies thrive and local innovators and entrepreneurs are able to make economic contributions.  

There are similar interrelationships when we talk about digital transformation. It was a great privilege to address the AMCHAM’s health, safety, security, and environment conference in November, especially with its expanded cybersecurity focus. Trinidad and Tobago’s drive toward digital transformation promises greater e fficiency, transparency, and more reliable access to public services.  

Those benefits equate to cost savings and economic growth in the establishment of new industries. But we have also seen throughout the world, and throughout Trinidad and Tobago, that technology’s transformative potential requires robust measures to identify vulnerabilities, mitigate threats, and protect systems and data.  

Another area of focus that encompasses multiple themes is the challenge and opportunity of addressing global climate change.  There is no question that Trinidad and Tobago has an important role to play not only in Caribbean energy security, but in global energy markets. I can assure everyone here today that the U.S. government recognizes and welcomes Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership on these critical issues, and that we remain your trusted partner in accelerating an energy transition that mitigates the worst impacts of climate change and provides opportunities for our citizens.

In Trinidad and Tobago I see a microcosm for the complexities of the climate crisis. On one hand, there is the opportunity for economic diversification through harnessing historic experience and sophisticated knowledge as an established global energy producer. In all of my travels and engagements throughout the United States, I highlight the vast economic potential that exists in expanding renewable energy generation, establishing a lower carbon hydrogen industry, and other activities that would decarbonize Trinidad and Tobago’s energy industry. But many of those opportunities are constrained by inadequate or non-existent regulatory frameworks that discourage the investment needed. Full approval of the drafted renewable feed-in tariff, for example, would help create the conditions to benefit from the diversification and economic growth potential in renewable energy generation.  

I’ll wrap this up with the recognition that the only way we make progress on any of these objectives is by joining forces with our partners. That means that more than ever, we look to our strongest Private sector allies, all of you, to be creative and agile in support of peace, stability, and prosperity for the citizens of both of our nations.

Based on what we accomplished together in 2023, I know I couldn’t ask for better partners and couldn’t think of a better way to return to work in 2024, than kicking the year off with you.

So, thank you, thank you for your collaboration and your collegiality. Thank you for your support of our efforts at the U.S. embassy. Thank you for the work that you all accomplish together with our commercial and economic section, and with me and the rest of my team. I am so grateful to each one of you here tonight, and to the institution of AMCHAM T&T.  

Let’s enjoy the evening together here atop Flagstaff Hill, and enjoy each other’s good company and cheer. Here’s to another year of working together and achieving amazing things thanks to the enduring bond between our two great countries. Cheers!


Ambassador's Reception 2024 - President's Speech