FSM and US Agree on Amendments to Compact Disaster Assistance Provisions
Washington, D.C. (FSM Information Services): July 13, 2004 - In a brief ceremony held at the FSM Embassy here, representatives of the FSM and US signed an agreement to amend Title X of the Federal Programs and Services Agreement concluded pursuant to the Compact of Free Association, as amended.
The FSM Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Jesse Marehalau, signed on behalf of the FSM. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Randy Schriver, signed for the US.
The signatures follow initialing of the negotiating texts by JCN Chief Negotiator, Speaker Peter Christian, and US Special Negotiator, Albert V. Short.
The agreement marks the end of more than six months of negotiations on a mechanism to replace direct FEMA assistance under the amended Compact, which entered into force earlier this month.
The US had originally proposed elimination of FEMA coverage, but in its consideration of the Compact legislation, the US Congress concerns expressed by the FSM and others, and mandated that special negotiations be held to arrive at a suitable arrangement that would include a role for FEMA. It specifically required the US Negotiator to report back to the US Congress by June 30, 2004 on the status of these talks. With the signature today, it is expected that the Administration will report favorably on the outcome of the talks.
The agreement signed today creates a hybrid disaster assistance mechanism designed specifically for the special needs of the FSM. Central to the agreement is continued access to FEMA disaster assistance funding, but carried out by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the US Agency for International Development (AID).
The new mechanism is designed to provide an improved and more timely response to the full range of natural disasters. The agreement creates a special Disaster Assistance Emergency Fund (DAEF), with annual contributions of $200,000 from both the US and FSM, which can be drawn upon by the FSM for an immediate response to declared disasters which threaten lives and property. Similarly, the FSM would have access to immediate USAID disaster assistance through the US Chief of Mission in the FSM.
When disasters exceed the ability of these short-term measures to address, the new mechanism would engage a joint OFDA/FEMA disaster assessment team and, after a US Presidential Disaster Declaration, would provide disaster assistance funding from FEMA administered by OFDA.
The signed agreement is now transmitted to the FSM President and to the US Congress for final approval. In the case of the latter, the amendment is subject to a mandatory 90-day review period before it can enter into force.
After these reviews are completed, a formal exchange of notes will mark entry into force. The sides agreed to include certain clarifying provisions in the context of this exchange.
Those present at the signing expressed a mutual desire that the new arrangement result in a more responsive and effective regime to respond to any natural disasters, large or small, that should strike the FSM.
As the agreed arrangement is new for both sides, representatives of the FSM and US stressed the need for close cooperation between the agencies involved to prepare for implementation. In this connection, FEMA has earmarked the US contribution to the DAEF made under the previous arrangement in FY 2004, for purposes of transition and training.
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