Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Launch of Sustainable Development Goals support to the FSM

 (FSM, Friday, 19th February 2016) The Government of Federated States of Micronesia and UNDP Pacific Office today signed an annual work plan to assist the Government raise awareness on the SDGs and to provide support at the national and state level in terms of achieving the 2030 Global Development Agenda, known as the “Sustainable Development Goals”.

The 17 new Sustainable Development Goals and corresponding 169 targets, aim to end poverty, hunger and inequality, take action on climate change and the environment, improve access to health, education, achieve peace, justice and strong institutions.

The SDGs build on achievements over the past 15 years guided by the 8 Millennium Development Goals, which world leaders agreed to pursue in 2000. The SDGs will continue to focus on eradication of poverty, gender equality, health and education, but they are more ambitious and specific in their focus on reducing inequalities.

For Small Islands Developing States such as FSM, one of the important goals, Goal 14: Life below Water recognises and emphasises the importance of conserving the oceans, seas and marine resources to counterbalance the effects of climate change.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani, who is currently visiting the FSM says, “The SDGs is a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions and seeks to leave no one behind. It seeks to forge partnerships with people and to ensure that goals are integrated, interlinked and involve everyone including the private sector, such is the ambition of these new goals.”

Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Samson E. Pretrick welcomes the support by the UN and UNDP, “The Government appreciates the technical assistance provided by the UN and UNDP in particular, and on this note, will seek to engage on the SDGs agenda from the outset and to ensure that we are on track when it comes to reporting on the SDGs.”

UNDP will focus its assistance on ensuring an integrated and holistic approach to tackling the SDGs, leveraging partnerships with government, donors and development partners, private sector and civil society

Meanwhile, SDGs advocacy will involve collective effort by the UN agencies in the Pacific to raise awareness on the sustainable development goals and to ensure that strong partnerships are formed at the National and State levels in driving this work forward.

For more information on the SDGs launch, contact: UNDP Programme Analyst: or UN Resident Coordinator’s Office

Friday, February 19, 2016

8th National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) Meeting held on February 11-12, 2016 at the Central Facilities Building in Palikir, Pohnpei

On February 11-12, 2016, the 8th National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) meeting was held at the Central Facilities in Palikir under the chairmanship of the Honorable Vice President Yosiwo P. George in order to discuss and validate the findings of the trade facilitation needs assessment conducted by the World Bank Trade Competitiveness Team, to discuss FSM’s participation in ongoing sub-regional and regional trade negotiations, and to consider the national trade and investment policies and priorities for 2016.

The discussions on the first day were focused on FSM’s performance in trading across borders, which deals with facilitating the movement of goods in and out of the country and covers the time, cost, number of documents, and days to process exports/imports documents as well as the cost to ship a 22feet container to and from the FSM.  The Committee noted that in the 2016 edition of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, FSM ranked 53 out of 189 countries worldwide; which in comparison to our neighboring countries such as the Republic of Palau (ROP), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Fiji, Samoa and the rest of the Pacific region, FSM is ranked the best or highest.  Reflecting on FSM’s outstanding performance in trading across the borders, Vice President George called on all stakeholders to work collaboratively toward achieving similar results in other areas of Ease of Doing Business. 
During the group discussions, participants reviewed and validated the findings of the assessment conducted by the World Bank Trade Competitiveness Team over a two week period in Pohnpei and Chuuk, FSM’s two busiest commercial ports.  A comprehensive report of FSM trade facilitation needs assessment highlighting gaps and areas where improvement is needed will be prepared by the World Bank and shared with the FSM National and State Governments.

On the second day of the 8th NTFC Meeting, the Committee received updates on negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus between Forum Island Countries, including the FSM and Australia and New Zealand and reviewed and endorsed FSM’s draft negotiating documents which will serve the basis for discussions at the next round of negotiations scheduled in March 2016.

In addition to PACER Plus, the 8th NTFC was also briefed on recent proposal by the European Commission to suspend negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European
Union and the Pacific Region, the status of ratification of the Treaty establishing the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community, and the trade and investment-related aspects of the recent Memorandum of Understanding between China and the FSM.

The 8th NTFC also considered the national trade and investment policies and priorities for 2016 incl
uding the ongoing assessment of capacity of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) scheduled for February 22- March 2, 2016, the review of Foreign Investment Laws in the FSM to further improve the investment climate, the review of the FSM Trade Policy and projects to support and enhance Private Sector Development in the FSM such as training of organic certification and product development support.  Along the same line, State representatives updated the Committee on several ongoing private sector initiatives, which deserve additional government support: Kosrae (production of banana chips, Yap (poultry and pig farms), Pohnpei (export initiative led by Pohnpei Export Association) and Chuuk (organization of its 1st trade fair in November 2015).

In his closing remarks, FSM Vice-president and NTFC Chairman Yosiwo P. George encouraged the Members to remain active in their respective areas and to continue to work collaboratively to achieve FSM’s Trade Policy objective, which is, “to encourage and promote export-led economic growth, self-reliance and sustainable development, with the ultimate objective of creating employment, alleviating hardship and raising the living standards of FSM citizens”.

Participants at the 8th NTFC Meeting included heads of National Government departments and senior officials, Chairmen of the States’ Trade Facilitation Committees, and members of the Private Sector and Non-Government Organizations.

The FSM Department of R&D was supported during the 8th NTFC by the World Bank Trade and Competitiveness Team and the Commonwealth Secretariat Hub & Spokes Programme II.

For more information, please contact the Department of Resources and Development at telephone number (691) 320-5133.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Joint Economic Management Committee Allocates $119.3 million Infrastructure Grant Funding for FSM

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Office of the President, February 17, 2016) – On January 21, 2016, the Joint Economic Management Committee or JEMCO held a virtual vote with regards to infrastructure grant funding for the FSM and approved an allocation of $119.3 million.  

At the September 1, 2015 Annual JEMCO meeting the FSM had requested a grant of $66.5 million to implement projects, as prioritized by the States, and submitted to JEMCO, as the FY2016 Annual Infrastructure Implementation Plan.  At the time, the JEMCO only provided for three projects – two in Pohnpei and one in Chuuk, totaling $16 million, with these grants to be made available after the updated Infrastructure Development Plan, 2016 - 2025 is completed and transmitted to JEMCO.

On October 2, 2015, the FSM National Government, following Congress approval, transmitted the Plan to JEMCO for concurrence.  This latest action by JEMCO confirms that FSM has fulfilled the outstanding resolution of March 2012, which had seen infrastructure allocations suspended from this date.

The specific projects approved from the FY2016 Annual Infrastructure Implementation Plan include 13 FSM schools, the Pohnpei Health Care Facility, and the Kosrae Hospital.  The FSM has specifically requested funding approval for numerous economic development related infrastructure projects not directly related to the health and education sectors; however, these have not been approved.  Although this represents a setback in overall FSM planning efforts, US officials have indicated that these infrastructure projects should be addressed and considered during upcoming JEMCO proceedings.  FSM Officials plan to address this important issue in the upcoming mid-year JEMCO meeting; with the objective of possible further FY2016 allocations.    

For more information on infrastructure, please contact the FSM Compact Management Division at (691) 320-6260.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

FSM Secretary of Education Kalwin Kephas attends the 2016 Peace Corp Swear-in Ceremony

On February 8, 2016, Secretary Kalwin Kephas of the FSM Department of Education represented President Peter M. Christian in a swear-in ceremony of new peace corp volunteers, under its response program. The ceremony was held at the Tuna Commission compound in Kolonia.

At the outset of his remark, Secretary Kephas thanked US Ambassador Doria Rosen and Peace Corp-Micronesia Director Robert Reid for the invitation extended for the FSM to participate in the ceremony. He welcomed the volunteers and congratulated them for their selection to be part of a program that is devised to assist less fortunate peoples and communities around the globe. Secretary Kephas also indicated that the FSM is a small and young country with many challenges and, like any other young and small country, thrives for the betterment of its people. He, therefore, welcomed the assistance and expertise of the volunteers.

Among the group of volunteers, seven volunteers are specifically assigned to assist with the Super Typhoon Maysak reconstruction efforts in the States of Chuuk and Yap. Their assignment is primarily to assist in renovation and refurbishing of private homes and structures. Secretary Kephas thanked them for the assignments they are about to undertake and reminded them that their assistance to these affected communities is more than just personal responsibilities, but equally important is the establishment of people-to-people contact and the development of friendship and bond that their experiences may entail. He assured that the people of these communities would be grateful for the assistance and expertise provided to them especially during these times when many are still recovering from difficulties caused by the typhoon.

Secretary Kephas also complimented those who will be assisting in the education sector for Pohnpei State, a sector that is challenging and one area that is part of the Peace Corp volunteers’ history in Micronesia. He also acknowledged the volunteer who will be assisting Pohnpei State Governor’s Office in the area of audit, an opportunity he hoped could be extended to the other States in the Federation. Lastly, he bid farewell to those who will be providing services in the Republic of Palau and thanked everyone again for their kind service.

Attending the ceremony were US Ambassador Doria Rosen, Lt. Governor of Pohnpei State Reed B. Oliver, Director of Peace Corp – Micronesia Robert Reid and other National and State officials.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The 8th National Trade Facilitation Meeting to be held at Palikir

The 8th Meeting of the National Trade Facilitation Meeting will be held on February 11-12, 2016 at the Central Facilities Building in Palikir, Pohnpei.
The Chairman of the NTFC, the Honorable Vice President Yosiwo George, is calling this meeting to discuss and validate the findings of the trade facilitation assessment that is being conducted by the World Bank this week. In addition, the Committee will review FSM’s negotiation position for the PACER Plus negotiations and receive updates on other negotiations, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement and the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community, and other trade and investment policy issues.
Members of the NTFC include all heads of National Government departments, offices, and agencies, Chairmen of the States’ Trade Facilitation Committees, and members of the Private Sector and Non-Government Organizations.
For more information, please contact the Department of Resources and Development at telephone number (691) 320-5133.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

FSM Healthcare Coalition and State Health Directors holds its 2nd annual meeting in Pohnpei

The FSM Healthcare Coalition and State Health Directors held its 2nd annual meeting from 18 to 22 January 2016 at Yvonne’s conference room in Pohnpei. Participants from the State and National levels addressed current issues that would provide strategic direction on capacity development in the health sector.

Drawing on a framework to better equip the number of issues identified, pressing issues were brought forefront for discussion. Notable among the action points were medical referrals, guidelines on harmonized reporting pertaining to Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) requirements, state specific strategies, implementation support among other action points with significant regard.

At the end of the week long meeting, a resolution on medical referral was signed by the State Directors and Acting Secretary Mr. Arthy G. Nena.

Participating were Mr. Arthy G. Nena, Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Livinson Taulung, Director of Kosrae Health Services, Mr. Julio Marar, Director of Chuuk Health Services, Ms. Martina Reichhardt, Director of Yap Health Services, Dr. Johnny Hedson, Acting Director of Pohnpei Health Services, Mr. Marcus Samo, Assistant Secretary of Health, Moses Pretrick (National), X-ner Luther (National), Lisa B. Kohler (National), Benito Cantero (National), Mayce Donre (National), Sidney Skilling (Kosrae), Rhine William (Kosrae), Tamae Sigrah (Kosrae), Boone Rain (Chuuk), Augustine Harong (Yap).

For more information, please contact the Department of Health and Human Services at (691) 320-2619.

Vice-President Yosiwo P. George Participated at the Turn-Over Ceremony of the Okat Bridge in Kosrae

The Honorable Vice-President Yosiwo P. George participated at the Turn-Over Ceremony of the Okat Bridge in the State of Kosrae, which was held in the morning of January 21, 2015.  The new Okat Bridge is funded by the government of the People’s Republic of China to replace the old bridge in Okat.  The Okat Bridge project is one of the largest projects and the first of its kind, ever donated to the Federated States of Micronesia by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and another largest project ever donated to Kosrae by the Chinese Government.  The Kosrae High School project that was built six years ago, is another important project resulting from the China-FSM Cooperation. The new Okat Bridge project was constructed by a Chinese company, Scichuan Road and Bridge Group Cooperation Company and started back in October 2014.

In his statement, Vice-President George expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the people and Government of the People’s Republic of China through Ambassador Li Jie, who was attending the turn-over ceremony on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China. The Vice-President indicated that he was happy to see a huge crowd gathered in Okat to witness the ceremony, which was an indication of great appreciation and thankfulness for the successful completion of the important project. Toward the end, he conveyed that the FSM National leadership shares the same feeling of pride and appreciation for the completion of the bridge. Vice-President George also indicated that it was a coincidence that the grand opening of the Okat Bridge took place, in the New Year 2016, which marks the FSM’s 30th Anniversary of our FSM Independence.

He stated that the new bridge is and would become a permanent landmark in Kosrae.  It would stand as a symbol of the strong partnership between FSM and China and the friendship of our people and would not only symbolize a strong connection and a permanent bridge between FSM and China but would actually improve the connection and access from the main island of Kosrae with the important commercial area and would encourage business and commercial development.

He reiterated that the FSM highly values and enjoys its diplomatic relationship with China, which was forged 27 years ago and that the FSM has remained committed and will continue to respect China’s policies, including One-China Policy.

He concluded his statement by thanking the officials and workers of Sichuan Road and Bridge Group Cooperation Company, the project contractor, for their hard and excellent workmanship.

While in Kosrae, Vice-President George held meetings with the leadership of Kosrae as well as with Ambassador Li and his staff.  He was accompanied to the ceremony by Second Lady Antilise George and representatives from the Departments of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure (TC&I).

1st China-FSM Economic and Trade Commission Meeting

Palikir, Pohnpei (Dept. of Foreign Affairs).  On January 25, 2016, Zhang Xiangchen, Deputy China International Trade Representative and Vice Minister headed a Ministry of Commerce delegation to the FSM to attend the 1st China-FSM Economic and Trade Commission meeting in Pohnpei. The purpose of the meeting is to promote economic and trade opportunities between FSM and China.

Prior to the convening of the Commission, the Vice Minister paid a courtesy call on President Christian.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs and co-chairman of the meeting, T.H. Lorin Robert opened the meeting at 9:30 a.m. at Cliff Rainbow Hotel and welcomed the delegation again to the FSM. Secretary Robert thanked the Government of the People’s Republic of China through T.H. Zhang Xiangchen for initiating the historic occasion, commencing the first ever China-FSM Economic and Trade Commission Meeting. He further stated he takes pride to be part of the meeting knowing that FSM was the second country in the Pacific Islands to ever establish such meeting with China. Secretary Robert continued by stressing the importance of the meeting to further strengthen the Sino-FSM relations.
T.H. Zhang Xiangchen responded by thanking Secretary Robert for the hospitality extended to his delegation upon arrival. He reiterated his appreciation to the FSM Government for the opportunity to sit down face to face to strengthen the bilateral relations between FSM and China. He further touched on a number of important issues that will enhance the working relations between the two countries.

There were a number of agenda discussions led by the co-chairs that solicited focus issues relating to their respective areas. Additionally, there were a number of interventions from Secretary of Resources and Development, T.H. Marion Henry, Secretary of Education, T.H. Kalwin Kephas, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, H.E. Carlson Apis, and Mr. Akillino Susaia on matters pertaining to relevant issues. 

The meeting concluded with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by Secretary Robert and T.H. Zhang Xiangchen, Deputy China International Trade Representative on behalf of their respective governments.

For more information, please contact the Department of Foreign Affairs in Palikir at (691)320-2613.