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Suriname - US Relations

The fourteen Western Hemisphere Dependent Overseas Territories of European Countries (DOTS) were of importance to the United States during the early years of Cold War because of their geographic position which has made them of vital importance in our national defense. In addition to their strategic importance, certain of these DOTS were important suppliers of bauxite and petroleum products. By the mid-1950s, Surinam, British Guiana and Jamaica export to the United States approximately 80% of the total United States imports of this ore and currently produce approximately 59% of the Free World supply of bauxite.

Since the reestablishment of a democratic, elected government in 1991, the United States has maintained positive and mutually beneficial relations with Suriname based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and civilian authority over the military. To further strengthen civil society and bolster democratic institutions, the U.S. has provided training to selected Surinamese military officers and policy leaders on appropriate roles for the military in civil society and other relevant topics. To assist Suriname in the fight against drugs and associated criminal activity, the U.S. has provided support to include training Surinamese anti-drug squads, police uniform patrol, military police, and customs officials. The U.S. and Suriname also have significant partnerships in fighting trafficking in persons and money laundering.

Since 2000, the U.S. has donated a criminal records database to the police as well as computers, vehicles, and radio equipment. Projects through which the U.S. has supported the judicial system include case management and computer hardware donations. Along with training projects, these programs have led to a strong relationship with law enforcement entities in Suriname. The United States also has worked with the Surinamese Ministries of Health, Education, and Defense to execute humanitarian engineering and health projects throughout the country.

Peace Corps Suriname works with the Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Health, and local and national groups to encourage healthy lifestyles and sound business practices in the interior and districts of Suriname.

On April 11, 2013 the Peace Corps announced that due to budget cuts it was phasing out of its program in Suriname after an 18-year partnership. The agency office officially closed at the end of July 2013. Nearly 450 health and community economic development volunteers had served in more than 100 villages, towns and cities in Suriname. In accordance with Surinames national priorities for development, the Peace Corps program has focused on supporting underserved communities, particularly small towns and remote villages with predominantly minority populations.

Suriname is densely forested, and increased interest in large-scale commercial logging and mining in Suriname's interior have raised environmental concerns. The U.S. Forest Service, the Smithsonian, and numerous non-governmental environmental organizations have promoted technical cooperation with the Surinamese Government to prevent destruction of the country's tropical rain forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. U.S. experts have worked closely with local natural resource officials to encourage sustainable development of the interior and alternatives such as ecotourism. On December 1, 2000, UNESCO designated the 1.6 million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve a World Heritage site. Suriname's tourism sector remains a minor part of the economy, and tourist infrastructure is limited (in 2004, some 145,000 foreign tourists visited Suriname).

Suriname's efforts in recent years to liberalize its economic policy created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments. The U.S. remains one of Suriname's principal trading partners, largely due to ALCOA's longstanding investment in Suriname's bauxite mining and processing industry. Several U.S. corporations represented by Surinamese firms acting as dealers are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors. Principal U.S. exports to Suriname include chemicals, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. U.S. consumer products are increasingly available through Suriname's many trading companies. Opportunities for U.S. exporters, service companies, and engineering firms probably will expand over the next decade.

Suriname is looking to U.S. and other foreign investors to assist in the commercial development of its vast natural resources and to help finance infrastructure improvements. In 2001 Suriname introduced and enacted an investment law. The IMF advised the government in 2003 to revise the law in order to increase its attractiveness to investors. The law was recalled for review, and provisions for new investments are available on a case-by-case basis with the permission of the Minister of Finance.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 14-05-2017 18:33:00 ZULU