As a member of both UNASUR and Caricom, Suriname is committed to encouraging deeper regional ties
During his six-month chairmanship of Caricom at the beginning of this year, President Desiré Delano Bouterse seized the opportunity to call for closer relations within the Caricom union through various demonstrations of Suriname’s economic diplomacy. It hosted numerous meetings and conferences that promoted unity among the region’s businesses and also its youth.
Further afield, Suriname’s desire for increased interactions is no less apparent. On June 21, delegations representing the United States and Suriname initialed the first open-skies agreement between the two nations. Once in full operation, the new agreement will allow the airlines of both countries to fly to, from, and beyond each other’s territory, without restrictions on the frequency of flights, the kind of aircraft carriers use, and their ability to offer discount fares. The agreement replaces an outdated aviation arrangement dating back to 1957, which was actually signed between the U.S. and the Netherlands, Suriname’s former colonial ruler, and aims to strengthen and expand trade and tourism links between the two countries. It also opens the possibility of code-sharing agreements between American and Surinamese airlines.
U.S. Ambassador to Suriname John R. Nay believes that the agreement, which the U.S. also has with 105 other countries, represents a win-win situation for both sides.
The U.S. opened its first consulate in Suriname in 1790. Diplomatic relations have been in place since Suriname gained independence from the Dutch on November 25, 1975. The South American nation has since strengthened its global links via membership of various organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
Suriname’s efforts in recent years to liberalize its economic policy have created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments in areas such as chemicals, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. 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 with its Suralco mining company. Several other U.S. corporations, represented by Surinamese firms, are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors.
“We value our relationship with the U.S. very highly,” says Subhas Chandra Mungra, Suriname’s Ambassador to the U.S. “From a historical point of view, the U.S. was one of the first countries to open a consulate in Suriname. During the Second World War, we produced 70% of the bauxite used to build aircraft to fight the Germans and the Japanese. We have about 20 agreements signed with the U.S., which include narco-traffic and anti-terrorism collaborations.”