REPUBLIC OF PALAU – The Palau Economic Advisory Group (EAG), newly constituted to provide recommendations on how the United States can best contribute to the long-term economic stability and resilience of the island, convened its initial meeting Aug. 22-26, 2022. The goal of this first meeting was to learn about the country’s economy and to begin to understand the successes, challenges, and opportunities facing Palau at this critical time, particularly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) provided funding for administrative support to the EAG.
“The Department of the Interior is committed to providing support and assistance in the launch of the bilateral Palau Economic Advisory Group” said Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen G. Cantor. “We commend Palau for hosting the first meeting and applaud the EAG for taking the time to meet in Palau and begin these important conversations. We look forward to the final recommendations in recognition that economic sustainability for Palau is not only good for the island, but also for the region, and good for the United States.”
As announced by the OIA on July 28, 2022, the five members were chosen with consideration given to the mix of expertise that would benefit the work of the bilateral advisory group.
The two EAG members designated by the Government of the United States of America are:
- Dr. Peter Watson, former President and CEO of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and presently an investment banker and policy adviser; and
- Dr. Denise Eby Konan, Dean of the College of Social Sciences, professor of economics, and former Chancellor of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
The two EAG members designated by the Government of the Republic of Palau are:
- T.H. Kaleb Udui, Minister of Finance for the Republic of Palau; and
- Dr. Naoyuki Yoshino, professor of economics emeritus at Keio University, and former Dean and CEO of the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo, Japan.
The fifth EAG member, who was chosen by the U.S. government from a list of nominees provided by the government of Palau is:
- Dr. James K. Galbraith, the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, and former executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress.
During the meetings in Palau, the EAG members met with Palau President Surangel Whipps, Jr., and officials from all levels, including national and state, executive and legislative, government and nongovernment, elected, and appointed officials. The discussions included reports of current programs, priorities, and challenges from the officials, and allowed EAG members to ask questions and explore their specific areas of interest. EAG members also selected Professor Galbraith to serve as Chairman.
The EAG plans to convene a second meeting in the coming months and then issue its initial report, as mandated, to the U.S. government and the government of Palau by early November 2022. It is expected that the initial report will be preliminary in nature, while subsequent reports will provide increasingly timely and detailed findings and recommendations for discussion between the two governments in annual bilateral economic consultations.
Further background information and work produced by the EAG can be found at their website at “palaueag.org.”
The Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA also administers a discretionary Technical Assistance Program for all the insular areas. Find information about OIA and its work on www.doi.gov/oia, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.