HomeEconomic IndicatorUS negotiator anticipates signing a fresh deal with Marshall Islands, aiming to...

US negotiator anticipates signing a fresh deal with Marshall Islands, aiming to strengthen strategic ties.

US Finalizes 20-Year Agreement Extension with Marshall Islands

The United States has reached a 20-year agreement extension with the Marshall Islands, solidifying their ties and paving the way for a $2.3 billion deal. Joseph Yun, the chief U.S. negotiator with the Pacific island nation, stated that the agreement is expected to be signed on Monday. This agreement falls under the Compacts of Free Association (COFAs), which dictate the defense and economic assistance responsibilities of the United States towards the Marshall Islands, as well as granting exclusive military access to strategic ocean areas.

Marshall Islands’ Role in the U.S.-China Battle for Influence

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is one of three sparsely populated nations in the Pacific that have COFAs with the United States. These nations have recently become crucial in the U.S.’s effort to counter Chinese influence in the Northern Pacific. Earlier this year, the Biden administration negotiated new deals with the other two states, Palau and Micronesia. After months of negotiations, the U.S. has finally reached an agreement with the Marshall Islands.

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Addressing the Legacy of Nuclear Testing

One of the key points of contention in the negotiations was the Marshall Islands’ request for the United States to address the legacy of nuclear testing that occurred in the 1940s and 1950s. The Marshall Islands called for better acknowledgment and remediation of the effects of these tests. With the agreement now finalized, it is expected to be signed in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the presence of both U.S. and Marshallese officials.

Financial Assistance and Trust-Fund Contributions

The United States will be providing the Marshall Islands with $2.3 billion over the next two decades. This assistance will be in the form of grant funding and trust-fund contributions. The grant assistance will be allocated to various areas such as education, healthcare, environment, and infrastructure. The utilization of the trust-fund money will be determined by the Marshallese government.

Economic Vulnerability and Chinese Approaches

The delay in finalizing the COFA agreement with the Marshall Islands has left them economically vulnerable due to potential funding shortfalls. This vulnerability could make them more receptive to Chinese approaches. The Biden administration had hoped for Congress to endorse new funding totaling $7.1 billion for all three COFAs by September 30th. However, due to budget haggling in Congress, this was not possible.

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The finalization of the agreement between the United States and the Marshall Islands marks a significant step in solidifying their ties. The financial assistance provided by the United States will contribute to the development and well-being of the Marshall Islands, while also serving U.S. strategic interests in the region.

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