U.S. Engagement in the Pacific Islands: UN General Assembly Update



OCTOBER 3, 2019

On September 27, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced $65 million in new assistance at a meeting with Pacific Island leaders in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly.  This new assistance is in addition to $36.5 million announced at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in August, as well as approximately $350 million that U.S. agencies invest annually in projects, assistance, and operations to build a more prosperous future for the people of the region.

Under the Pacific Pledge of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the U.S. Government is committing over $100 million in new U.S. assistance to the region.   As part of the Pacific Pledge, USAID plans to provide over $63 million in new programs over the next year, more than doubling development assistance given over previous years.  In addition, USAID will expand its staff presence in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau.

This new assistance announced by Secretary Pompeo in New York on September 27 includes:

  • Enhancing Resilience to Environmental Challenges: The United States recognizes that addressing environmental degradation and climate change is a priority in the Pacific due to the threat posed by sea level rise and the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters. To assist in addressing this Pacific priority, the United States plans to commit $10 million to provide support for disaster resilience, weather forecasting, and to address environmental challenges in the Pacific region.
  • Building Resilient Infrastructure and Expanding Connectivity: The United States is committed to improving access to electricity and open, secure, and reliable internet to help drive economic growth in the Pacific. The United States is following through on Vice President Pence’s commitment to electrify Papua New Guinea with $23 million in immediate assistance.  The United States is working with donor partners Australia, Japan, and New Zealand to reach 70% electrification by 2030.  USAID will also provide $7.5 million across the region to help expand broadband connectivity.
  • Enhancing Good Governance: The Pacific Islands and the United States share a strong commitment to democracy, rule of law, peaceful resolution of disputes, and transparency. As part of the Indo-Pacific Transparency Initiative, the U.S. will provide $15 million to promote sound, just, and responsive governance within the region to empower citizens, help combat corruption, and strengthen nations’ autonomy.  The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) is also working to strengthen local journalism through training and reporting tours.  GEC is also providing media outlets in the Pacific Islands the ability to publish Associated Press (AP) reporting free of charge and ensuring access to credible and independent news.
  • Enhancing Maritime Security: Enhancing maritime security is critical to combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. USAID will provide up to $7.5 million dollars to help the Pacific Islands stop IUU fishing activities in their own exclusive economic zones.
  • Enhancing Security Cooperation: To enhance security capacity in the Pacific, the Department of State will embed advisors in Fiji, Palau, and the Solomon Islands.  In Fiji, a Defense Strategic Policy and Planning Reform Advisor will be embedded with the Fijian Ministry of Defense to enhance strategic policy and planning processes.  In Palau, an advisor embedded at the Ministry of Justice’s Maritime Law Enforcement Division will assist with operationalizing the new Maritime Law Center.  In the Solomon Islands, an advisor embedded at the Ministry of Police and National Security’s Royal Solomon Islands Police Force will enhance maritime governance and security.
  • Building Cyber Capacity: On August 19-20, 2019, the State Department held a capacity-building workshop for the Pacific Islands on national cyber strategy development, risk management and incident response, managing broadband spectrum, and digital connectivity.

Under the Trump Administration, the United States has increased engagement with Pacific Island nations to unprecedented levels, including:

  • President Trump’s historic Oval Office meeting with the three Presidents of the Freely Associated States on May 21, 2019.
  • Vice President Pence’s visit to Papua New Guinea for APEC in November 2018.
  • Secretary Pompeo’s roundtable meeting with Pacific Islands leaders on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2019.
  • Secretary Pompeo’s visit to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on August 5, 2019, marking the first trip ever by a Secretary of State to the FSM.
  • Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert Wilkie’s attendance at the inauguration of Micronesian President Paneulo in July 2019.
  • Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt’s leadership of an interagency U.S. delegation to the 31st Pacific Islands Forum’s Forum Dialogue Partners meeting in August 2019.

The United States has and will continue to partner with the Pacific Islands to tackle global and regional challenges, including promoting regional security and stability, advancing sustainable growth, addressing environmental challenges, responding to natural disasters, and strengthening our people-to-people ties.

For information on U.S. engagement with Pacific Island nations, please contact EAP-Press@state.gov or visit: https://www.state.gov/pacific-islands-forum-u-s-engagement-in-the-pacific-islands/.