April 11, 2006

The Kaselehlie Press

Palikir, POHNPEI - The China-Pacific Island countries meeting has provided the Federated States of Micronesia with over US$ 2.5 million in grant assistance.

President Joseph J. Urusemal returned to Pohnpei on Monday following the, first ever, China-Pacific Islands Countries (PIC) Economic Development and Cooperation Forum from April 5-6 2006, in Fiji.

Premier Wen Jiabao, of the People's Republic of China, met with President Urusemal and six other leaders from the Pacific island countries during the two-day forum and provided the participating Pacific islands countries with over US$300 million in development assistance.

President Urusemal held bilateral talks with Premier Wen during which the two witnessed the signing ceremony of two assistance grants.

The first grant RMB 600,000 (US$75,000) will be used for the dispatch of a Study Team from China to begin initial assessment for the construction of the Pohnpei State Administration building.

The other RMB 20,000,000 (US$2.5 million) will be used for projects to be agreed upon between the two governments. Signing on behalf of the their respective governments were Lorin S. Robert, FSM Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Bo Xilai, Chinese Minister of Commerce.

Premier Wen announced in the Forum the inclusion of Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the FSM as Approved Destination Status (ADS) countries which will greatly improve the tourism development for these countries.

In the presence of the State Leaders of the PICs and China, PIC ministers signed the China-PIC Economic Development and Cooperation Guiding Framework which provides direction and general principles of cooperation between China and PICs in several areas of economic development. Akillino Susaia, FSM Secretary of Economic Affairs signed the Framework on behalf of the FSM.

Following the opening ceremonies, PIC ministers delivered their country statements along with Australia and New Zealand. Deputy Secretary Lorin Robert and Secretary Akillino Susaia delivered the FSM statements on Economic Development ties with China, and FSM Fisheries Development respectively. Other ministers from Pacific island countries spoke on similar economic and cooperation issues, such as tourism and transportation, trade and investment, forestry and agriculture.

During the China-PICs Forum, the FSM became the 11th signatory to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) when President Urusemal signed the agreement in the presence of Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Greg Urwin, other PIFS staff, and the FSM delegation. During the signing ceremony, PIFS Secretary General congratulated the FSM, and re-assured the President for the continued support of the PIF Secretariat in the public education and ratification process of PICTA.

In addition to meetings with Chinese government delegation members, the FSM delegation held informal and courtesy meetings with representatives of public corporations and the private sector such as the China National Fisheries Corporation, China Civil Aviation Bureau, and the Export-Import Bank. The Chinese delegations had expressed interest in exploring areas of cooperation in the FSM.

While in Nadi, President Urusemal and his delegation received a group of FSM students attending various schools in Suva. They expressed appreciation for the rare opportunity to meet President Urusemal and were briefed on latest developments in the FSM especially in the areas of education and scholarship. Deputy Chief of Missions Gabriel Ayin assisted in the transport arrangement for the students from Suva to Nadi.

Accompanying President Urusemal to the inaugural China-PIC meeting were Secretary Akillino Susaia, Deputy Secretary Lorin Robert, Ambassador Kodaro Gallen and Deputy Assistant Secretary Perry Pedrus.