16 Aug 2002

Compact negotiations to resume in Washington this weekend

4:02 pm on 16 August 2002

Marshall Islands negotiators fly to Washington D.C this weekend to discuss the future of the compact deal between the nation and the United States.

The major sticking points remain the level of funding the Marshalls should receive from the US for the next 20 years, and the Free Association pact between the countries.

At present the Marshalls receives over forty million US dollars a year from the US, with the US proposing 33 point 9 million in grants and seven million for a trust fund, per year, in the future.

The Marshalls wants 36 point 6 million in grants and 12 million for the trust fund.

There is also disagreement over whether the aid should be pegged at 100 percent of inflation, which the Marshall Islanders want, or at 67 percent of inflation, the US position.

Not as pressing as the aid deal is the continuation of free association between the two countries.

The US has brought the issue to the bargaining table in an attempt to renegotiate the longstanding arrangement.

But, the Marshalls are not prepared to move away from Free Association, with the President Kessai Note saying the country is proud of the arrangement and does not want to see it watered down.