Can the CNMI sustain its economic growth after the end of CW1?

Saipan Nobody knows what will happen to the CNMI after the clock strikes 12 on Dec. 31, 2019. That’s the day the CNMI-Only Transitional Nonimmigrant Worker or CW1 Program, handled by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, comes to an end.

A cloud of uncertainty hovers over CNMI —especially on Saipan, the center of economic activity and main tourist attraction of the commonwealth.

Government and business leaders are lobbying and working hard in asking the powers that be in Washington D.C. to extend the program for at least another five years rather than risk losing the economic gains of the last four years.

Acting Gov. Victor Hocog leads the groundbreaking of the new U.S. courthouse for the CNMI in Gualo Rai in this Dec. 7 file photo. Nobody knows what will happen to the CNMI after the CW1 program comes to an end on Dec. 31, 2019. Photo courtesy of Office of the CNMI Governor

The CNMI economy grew rapidly, buoyed by new investments and increasing tourist arrivals from the Chinese and Korean markets. A huge contributor was the government’s decision to allow casin