Underwood: FSM did well with Compact of Free Association - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Underwood: FSM did well with Compact of Free Association

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Thirty years after the signing of the Compact of Free Association, one longtime political observer says the Federated States of Micronesia did well in its landmark deal with the United States.  Former congressman and current University of Guam president Dr. Robert Underwood has written extensively about the FSM over the years, and says it's even progressed quicker than Guam.

"So if you look at the trajectory of political status development, at one point in time in the 60's it looked like the trust territories, the Pacific islands, were way behind and Guam was a lot closer and had a great deal with the US and then over time everybody just kind of leapfrogged along, and Guam is still essentially in the same situation it was in the 60's," he explained.

Underwood says he believes the US will strike a new deal with the FSM before the Compact expires in a few years.  That's because China is already making overtures, and building relationships with the federated states that the US cannot ignore, noting, "It's crucial to maintain a friendly partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia, because that's a big hole in the middle of the ocean to manage."

Underwood also speculated, "I think it behooves US planners to figure out how to cement this relationship and keep it going rather than worry about accountability or trying to get them on some important points, but certainly minor in comparison to the overall strategic posture that we face here in the North Pacific."

Underwood says the biggest hurdle to the FSM's economic development is its aversion to foreign investment.  He says the FSM could accelerate its growth and bring home its citizens who left for other countries, if it were more open to outside capital. 

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