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Saint Lucia - Foreign Relations

Historically, the major thrust of foreign affairs for St. Lucia has been economic development. The government is seeking balanced international relations with emphasis on mutual economic cooperation and trade and investment. It seeks to conduct its foreign policy chiefly through its membership in the OECS.

St. Lucia participated in the 1983 Grenada mission, sending members of its Special Services Unit into active duty. St. Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the United Nations. It maintains friendly relations with the major powers active in the Caribbean, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. St. Lucia has been active in eastern Caribbean regional affairs through the OECS and CARICOM.

In May 2007, St. Lucia established diplomatic relations with Taiwan, ending a 10-year relationship with the People's Republic of China.

St. Lucia's foreign policy was firmly rooted in its historical association with Britain and culturally and economically linked to the goals of its Commonwealth Caribbean neighbors. The island's orientation was apparent in St. Lucia's close economic and political ties with Britain, as well as in its goal of a unified Caribbean based on strong support for Caricom.

St. Lucia's historical association with Britain dates back to the early nineteenth century and has significantly influenced the island's political and economic foreign policy. In addition to inheriting a British political system and attendant foreign policy outlook, St. Lucia continued to rely on Britain as its primary export market in the 1980s. These factors combined to instill a strong sense of cooperative spirit and sympathy for the foreign policies of Britain and other Commonwealth countries. This shared outlook was particularly evident among the Caricom countries. Because they had experienced a fairly similar colonial heritage and also recognized the benefit of a unified position in dealing with larger states, Caricom's foreign policy predominantly represented the united foreign policies of individual members. This consensus was evident as early as 1975 with the presentation of a unified Caricom position at the first Lom Convention, which established guidelines for improved trade relations between the European Economic Community and Third World countries. When St. Lucia became an active member of Caricom, it also linked its foreign policy goals, at least informally, with those of other Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

In spite of similarities in colonial heritage and external goals among many of the Caribbean islands, there were also elements of disunity in the region's foreign affairs. The lack of unity was most evident in the competitive nature of regional economic relations. The Caribbean economies were alike in that they all relied on exporting agricultural and light manufactured products, as well as attracting large numbers of tourists. Such similarities led to contention in foreign relations, as each country competed for the same foreign markets. The creation of Caricom in 1973 from earlier organizations responsible for regional integration was an attempt to recognize historical and geographical similarities, while also providing a forum for voicing regional disagreements. Caricom's attempts to achieve mutually beneficial foreign economic, political, and security goals have served to unite the area.

In the 1980s, St. Lucia's foreign policy, overall, was considered pragmatic and generally focused on meeting national goals within the framework of supporting regional and international alliances. It maintained formal relations with such politically diverse countries as Cuba and the United States and was a member of the Nonaligned Movement. St. Lucia had, however, adopted ardent national positions on important international issues. It was strongly opposed to the apartheid policies of South Africa and very supportive of arms control, as well as economic and security cooperation among the Caribbean states. Because of its political and security concerns, St. Lucia promoted regional cooperation and stability.

In the late 1980s, economic concerns were at the forefront of St. Lucian foreign affairs. Such concerns were evident in the Compton government's desire to promote free trade and to attract foreign investment. St. Lucia was a strong advocate of regional free trade, in part because trade barriers had contributed to its current account deficit. The islaid also supported a united Caricom position regarding extraregionl trade; St. Lucia actively pursued a policy of attracting foreign capital as a way of promoting economic development. The goverAment, for example, provided incentives to foreign private capital and attempted to attract financial assistance from regional and international development organizations.

The United States and St. Lucia have a cooperative relationship. The United States supports the St. Lucian Government's efforts to expand its economic base and improve the lives of its citizens. The Government of St. Lucia has cooperated with the United States on security concerns. U.S. assistance is primarily channeled through multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank, and the USAID office in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps, whose Eastern Caribbean regional headquarters is located in St. Lucia, has numerous volunteers located in St. Lucia, working primarily in business development, education, and health. U.S. security assistance programs provide limited training to the paramilitary Special Services Unit and the coast guard. In addition, St. Lucia receives U.S. counternarcotics assistance and benefits from U.S. military exercises and humanitarian civic action construction projects.

St. Lucia and the United States share interest in combating international crime and narcotics trafficking. Because of St. Lucia's geographical location, it is an appealing transit point for traffickers. In response to this threat, the Government of St. Lucia has concluded various bilateral treaties with the United States, including a Maritime Law Enforcement Agreement (subsequently amended to include overflight and order-to-land provisions), a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, and an Extradition Treaty.

More Americans visit St. Lucia than any other national group. In 2008, tourist visitors totaled almost 1 million, mainly from the United States, the United Kingdom, and CARICOM.

The United States maintains no diplomatic presence in St. Lucia. The Ambassador and Embassy officers are resident in Barbados but travel frequently to St. Lucia.





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