By NAN Contributor
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. Dec. 16, 2016: With a simple stroke of his pen, U.S. President Barack Obama today, December 16, 2016, made the United States–Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 law.
The bill was among several the President made law Friday ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.
The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (H.R. 4939) law, calls for an increase engagement of the US with the governments of the Caribbean region, the Caribbean Diaspora community in the United States and the private sector and civil society in both the United States and the Caribbean.
It also calls for The Department of State shall submit to Congress a multi-year strategy for U.S. engagement with the Caribbean region that:
- identifies State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to prioritize U.S. policy towards the Caribbean region;
- broadens State Department and USAID outreach to the Caribbean Diaspora community in the United States to promote their involvement in Caribbean economic development and citizen security;
- outlines an approach to partner with Caribbean governments to improve citizen security, reduce illicit drug trafficking, strengthen the rule of law, and improve the effectiveness of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI);
- encourages efforts of the region to implement regional and national strategies that improve Caribbean energy security;
- improves diplomatic engagement with Caribbean governments; and
- assists Caribbean countries in diversifying their economies, reducing free trade and investment barriers, and supporting the training and employment of persons in marginalized communities.
The law also urges The State Department shall annually brief the appropriate congressional committees on efforts to implement such strategy and calls for the President to report within one year and biennially thereafter for four years on progress made in implementing such strategy.
It also calls for the Government Accountability Office shall report to Congress regarding: the CBSI; and diplomatic outreach from the U.S. embassy in Barbados to Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.
It was co-sponsored by Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a former Chair of the Committee, and passed the Senate this week after the House passed it in June.
“It’s time to have a multi-year strategy that will allow us to increase engagement with the Caribbean,” Engel said this week in commenting on the measure.