Strong U.S., links, longstanding Dutch connections and a geostrategic location combine to position Aruba as a robust gateway between the U.S., the EU and Latin America for commerce, political dialogue and investment
The government of Aruba has laid out plans to capitalize on its strong international relations and the island’s prime geostrategic location that can capture ‘economic crosswinds’ in its bid to reduce the economy’s reliance on its tourism and oil sectors.
The Aruban government is an advocate for closer economic and social collaborations between Aruba and other Caribbean countries with the United States, the EU and Latin America (LATAM). The plan is to harness Aruba’s geographic location, highly educated labor base, and political skill sets to build bridges linking these large trade blocks. The creation of a ‘third pillar’ of the economy will help increase diversification, economic stability, growth and sustainability.
“Aruba has Dutch heritage and is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so, of course, we have many excellent ties to Dutch companies and educational institutions, but we also have been receiving a great deal of interest from prominent American entities that see what we are doing in Aruba and are eager to be part of new and innovative projects,” says Prime Minister Mike Eman. “They gain from exposure to the Caribbean region and projects that can hold lessons for other countries, and Aruba gains from the knowledge and expertise of world-class companies and universities.”
One example of increasing U.S. involvement in Aruba is evidenced by Baptist Healthcare System, a prominent American company assisting Aruba in improving its healthcare delivery, and it joins many other American companies doing business on the island.
“Many well-known U.S. companies and investors are present in Aruba from Hyatt to Marriott to Carl Icahn. While the government has a moratorium on the building of new hotels, there may be opportunities for investment in the renovation of existing hotels,” says Mr. Eman.
The country’s drive to regenerate its urban space has also piqued American interest.
The Prime Minister says: “Early in my administration, we began two extensive programs of urban renewal to improve our neighborhoods, which we call Bo Bario, or ‘Your Neighborhood’, and Bo Aruba, or ‘Your Aruba’. Our vision was to revitalize our downtown areas, to renovate existing buildings and landmarks, to add more parks and meeting spaces and, in general, to put in place the physical structures that would encourage families, friends and neighbors to re-connect with one another.”
Mr. Eman adds, “The University of Pennsylvania became very interested in our program of urban renewal and sent several of its professors and graduate students to Aruba to talk to the community and to develop plans to implement our vision. The University of Pennsylvania even held a competition among its graduate students for the best solutions and plans for the project. Both sides gained a great deal from such a partnership.”
Furthermore, Aruba is proud to have developed a strong relationship with Harvard University, working with several of its professors who are prominent in diverse fields, such as earth sciences, business and public policy, but who all share a strong interest in finding a solution to climate change.
Mr. Eman says, “They bring a multi-faceted approach to this critical problem, and [last] year we hosted the First Annual Aruba-Harvard Workshop on Sustainable Development. The leader of the group is Professor Daniel P. Schrag, a renowned expert on climate change and the Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. I have also had the privilege of being invited to speak at the prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government and to share Aruba’s vision for long-term sustainable growth. It was an exciting event, and I very much enjoyed talking with the students after my lecture.”
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