“We are prepared for the Compact Review,” said President Surangel Whipps Jr. of the upcoming Compact review and negotiations with the United States. The Compact of Free Association between Palau and the United States of America calls for a review every 15 years and is due in 2024.
“We, including other FAS have clearly requested the U.S. government to appoint a new negotiator, one who can speak on behalf of the whole government.
The Compact talks are one-sided said Whipps, saying the United States is dictating the terms and not allowing discussions.
“For the last year, no talks have been held, and that’s a fact,” said Whipps of the stalled negotiations with the U.S. government on the Compact.
Compact grants, Compact Trust Fund disbursements, and other U.S. grants made up 25% of the Palau government expenditures in 2019 according to the latest report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Compacts of the Free Association with Palau.
These do not include the costs of programs and services provided in the Compact that is scheduled to expire in 2024.
President Surangel Whipps Jr. said that these are not sufficient and that’s why they must discuss these at the table with a US representative that speaks for the whole US government.
“GAO says this is sufficient help to Palau, it’s not right,” added Whipps. Inflation, the unfunded liability of Pension Fund, debt due to COVId, underfunded Trust Fund are some of the important items that Whipps wants to address in the Compact Review.
He said that the discussions should not only be on “how to secure defensively but also economic security and resilience and climate change.”
Meanwhile, in the recently released U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Biden administration reiterated its commitment to concluding the Compacts negotiations. “ We will also prioritize finalization of the Compact of Free Association agreements with the Freely Associated States.”
“We have our team ready and we are just waiting for the US team. We need to work together to find what is best for the United States and also what is best for Palau,” stated Whipps.