COFA talks: Getting ready for renegotiation

The economic provisions of the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia will expire in 2023. FSM would then start dipping into a mandated trust fund set up years ago to sustain itself. The problem is, such trust fund, is not ready, according to a Government Accountability Office study.

In a recent visit to the FSM, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told FSM President David Panuelo that the U.S. is “ready to begin negotiations on the expiring provisions of the COFA,” according to a press release from Panuelo’s office.

The two first met in Washington, D.C. on May 21 when Panuelo visited the White House, along with Palau President Tommy Remengesau and Marshal Islands President Hilda Heine. During their initial meeting, Pompeo asked Panuelo: “How can we help you?” The FSM president replied with a request for “the green-light on the negotiating authority. A lot of our citizens here and (those) residing in the U.S. worry about their future and the future of COFA.”

The FSM Joint Committee on Compact Review & Planning has named Leo Falcam Jr. as the chief negotiator for FSM. Falcam is a 30-year U.S. Marine Aviation veteran with experience in tactical, operational and strategic levels of U.S. National Defense planning and policy implementation. He retired as a colonel. Falcam’s military service, the committee said, “provides him a unique background into U.S. perspective in many areas, including regional security initiatives.”