US announces $200 million in new funding for Pacific islands
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The White House has pledged $200 million in new funding to address the priority issues raised by Pacific Island leaders, highlighting the second U.S.-Pacific Island Summit in Washington last week.
U.S. officials said the new funding announced at last week’s meeting between President Joe Biden and the Pacific Islands Forum would bring to $8 billion the total amount of assistance since last year.
“Our $200 million in new programs for Pacific Island Forum nations do include some really consequential new programs that we believe are going to help our friends in the Pacific to generate the economic dynamism that they’re looking for to offset and combat climate change and to continue their recovery from the pandemic, where they were especially hard-hit,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, special assistant to the president and National Security Council director for East Asia and Oceania
Rapp-Hooper said the president has also reaffirmed his commitment to the region's security by combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing with over $11 million in U.S. funding to bring cutting-edge maritime domain awareness technology to the Pacific.
“We’re also delivering on our promise to invest in the prosperity of the region. As the President has announced, we will invest an additional $40 million working with Congress to expand our Pacific Islands Infrastructure Initiative," Rapp-Hooper said at Friday's digital press briefing.
“Through this initiative, we’re bringing technical assistance and project preparation work needed to identify commercially viable projects through partners in the U.S. government, including the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
U.S. officials also announced a new microfinance facility that will offer micro-loans to Pacific island businesses to give entrepreneurs "a chance to thrive."
Rapp-Hooper said the U.S. is working on "these deliverables" to "illustrate the depths of our collaboration with the Pacific islands" and fulfill its promise to expand its long-lasting partnership with the region.
"It’s about delivery on the promises that we’ve made in the last two years, which I think we showed in spades this week, but on delivery on those new conversations and those new commitments that have been made just this week," Rapp-Hooper said.
"We intend to literally put our money where our mouth is and deliver on everything that we seek to do together in the Pacific, whether that is providing finance so that friends in the Pacific can more quickly and readily adapt to climate change or providing micro and small loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses so that women leaders in particular can get the financing they need to allow them to contribute to increasingly dynamic Pacific economies," she added.