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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesINSULAR AREAS SUMMIT FOCUSES ON PARTNERSHIPS

INSULAR AREAS SUMMIT FOCUSES ON PARTNERSHIPS

Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen came out of an unprecedented meeting of top federal and insular territory officials Wednesday optimistic that the process that led to the meeting "will result in some meaningful economic development initiatives for the territories."
The meeting in Washington, D.C., of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs was attended by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, the delegate and their counterparts from the nation's other insular territories.
Aimed at giving the federal government guidance on policy concerning Guam, the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands, the meeting was an important step toward resolution of issues and increasing "the level of participation in federal programs by U.S. territories," Office of Insular Affairs director Danny Aranza said.
He said IGIA efforts have led to at least 15 "short-term wins" that he described as federal-island partnerships.
Christensen said progress toward resolution of critical issues could come by the end of March. She said that John Berry, IGIA co-chair and assistant secretary of the Interior, told the group that by then "an inventory of programs" will be brought to the table as the Clinton administration seeks ways to enhance the economies of the territories.
"I am optimistic that this process will result in some meaningful economic development initiatives for the territories," Christensen said.
She said Virgin Islands concerns raised at the meeting included bids for assistance with waste water and solid waste problems, inclusion in new market initiatives and empowerment zones, inclusion in trade missions, a focus on territories as tax treaties are negotiated, resolution of negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and grants and technical assistance in various areas.
"If we can come to concrete resolution of any or all of these issues, it would be a boost for our economy," she said.
She suggested that because less than 10 months remains in the current administration, the IGIA focus on regulatory or administrative issues that may not require funding.
As examples of developments that could enhance the territory's economy, she cited the creation of an infrastructure bank under the Transportation Department; state office designation for agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration and Social Security Administration; and the hiring of more local personnel for federal positions.
Christensen said the reported confiscation by U.S. Customs personnel of cigarettes purchased in the territory which bear the mark "for export only" was discussed at the meeting. She said she told the group that this interpretation of a 1997 federal law is contrary to the duty-free status enjoyed by the territory for many years.

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Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen came out of an unprecedented meeting of top federal and insular territory officials Wednesday optimistic that the process that led to the meeting "will result in some meaningful economic development initiatives for the territories."
The meeting in Washington, D.C., of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs was attended by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, the delegate and their counterparts from the nation's other insular territories.
Aimed at giving the federal government guidance on policy concerning Guam, the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands, the meeting was an important step toward resolution of issues and increasing "the level of participation in federal programs by U.S. territories," Office of Insular Affairs director Danny Aranza said.
He said IGIA efforts have led to at least 15 "short-term wins" that he described as federal-island partnerships.
Christensen said progress toward resolution of critical issues could come by the end of March. She said that John Berry, IGIA co-chair and assistant secretary of the Interior, told the group that by then "an inventory of programs" will be brought to the table as the Clinton administration seeks ways to enhance the economies of the territories.
"I am optimistic that this process will result in some meaningful economic development initiatives for the territories," Christensen said.
She said Virgin Islands concerns raised at the meeting included bids for assistance with waste water and solid waste problems, inclusion in new market initiatives and empowerment zones, inclusion in trade missions, a focus on territories as tax treaties are negotiated, resolution of negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and grants and technical assistance in various areas.
"If we can come to concrete resolution of any or all of these issues, it would be a boost for our economy," she said.
She suggested that because less than 10 months remains in the current administration, the IGIA focus on regulatory or administrative issues that may not require funding.
As examples of developments that could enhance the territory's economy, she cited the creation of an infrastructure bank under the Transportation Department; state office designation for agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration and Social Security Administration; and the hiring of more local personnel for federal positions.
Christensen said the reported confiscation by U.S. Customs personnel of cigarettes purchased in the territory which bear the mark "for export only" was discussed at the meeting. She said she told the group that this interpretation of a 1997 federal law is contrary to the duty-free status enjoyed by the territory for many years.