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Backgrounds: Cayman Islands US Relations
Although the United Kingdom is responsible for the Cayman Islands' defense and foreign affairs, important bilateral issues are often resolved by negotiations between the Cayman Government and foreign governments, including the United States. Despite close historic and political links to the United Kingdom and Jamaica, geography and the rise of tourism and international finance in the Cayman Islands' economy has made the United States its most important foreign economic partner. Following a dip in tourists from the United States after 9/11, about 500,000 U.S. citizens traveled to the Cayman Islands in 2002; some 10,000 Americans are resident there.
For U.S. and other foreign investors and businesses, the Cayman Islands' main appeal as a financial center is the absence of all major direct taxes, free capital movement, a minimum of government regulations, and a well-developed financial infrastructure. The Cayman Islands is the world's fifth-largest financial center.
With the rise in international narcotics trafficking, the Cayman Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States in order to reduce the use of its facilities for money laundering operations. In June 2000, The Cayman Islands was listed by multilateral organizations as a tax haven and a noncooperative territory in fighting money laundering. The country's swift response in enacting laws limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and for banks to cooperate with foreign investigators led to its removal from the list of noncooperative territories in June 2001.
The Cayman Islands are, however, part of the consular district administered by the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Inquiries regarding visas to the U.S. or other consular matters should be directed to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica; tel: 876-929-4850; fax: 876-935-6019.
There also is a U.S. consular agent, Gail Duquesnay, in the Cayman Islands to assist in providing services for American citizens--tel: 345-945-1511.
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