THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S VISIT TO GUAM November 23, 1998 FACT SHEET
Today, President Clinton will visit the U.S. Territory of Guam. His visit is the first by a U.S. President since 1986. President Clinton will attend a reception in his honor, participate in a World War II wreath laying ceremony, and address the people of Guam. President Clinton is firmly committed to addressing issues of importance to the people of Guam. During his visit, the President will make a number of announcements and address the following issues
Excess Military Property Conveyances
The armed services hold title to 44,800 acres in Guam -- 23% of the island's total. Guamanians feel land was unfairly acquired in the wake of the liberation of the island from enemy hands in World War Two. They also contend that the extent of the holdings limit the island's development. A 1994 law providing for the transfer of the ownership of 3,213 acres to Guam has not been fully implemented. Changes in military requirements have made other land and facilities available. President Clinton will announce the following --
The intent to transfer the 3,213 acres covered by the 1994 law as soon as possible. The intent to try to transfer another 2,366 acres of Air Force land, including 561 on which 360 housing units are located. The intent to try to transfer another 2,779 acres of Navy land. The immediate availability of 44 acres worth $4.5 million. An effort to expedite the transfer of 2,031 acres at the former Naval Air Station adjacent to the commercial airport, including a 92 acre officer's family housing parcel. Economic Development Administration serious consideration of $1 million to develop the property. An effort to expedite the transfer of the 100 acre former Navy Ship Repair Facility. Maritime Administration serious consideration of a low-cost loan guarantee for the commercial operation of the yard. Military Sealift Command serious consideration of further contracting at the yard. Navy donation of a larger drydock. The intent to ask Congress to complete action on umbrella legislation for the transfer of land excess to military needs to Guam. (A bill passed the Senate this year.) A White House-led task force to ensure follow-up on the above.
Micronesian Compact Impact Aid
Guam is the most developed island in Micronesia. Thousands of citizens of the three Micronesian nations "freely associated" with the United States have taken advantage of a provision of the association compacts that enables them to live in Guam. The island is the U.S. community most affected by this immigration. The initial compact approval law authorizes reimbursement of the costs to insular social programs. $4.6 million is being provided annually by the Interior Department to Guam. Territorial officials have requested at least $10 million a year.
President Clinton will announce that the Administration will propose increasing the reimbursement to Guam to $10 million annually.
Preferential Trade Rules
Guam and the other smaller territorial jurisdictions of the U.S. are outside U.S. customs territory but have preferential, duty-free access to the U.S. market for a wide range of products if the products meet specific tests -- "substantial transformation" of foreign components into a new product and "value added" locally to the components. While Guam already receives extensive benefits under U.S. law, it has sought to eliminate perceived market access impediments.
President Clinton will announce that the Administration will propose legislation to eliminate value added requirements for products of the smaller territorial jurisdictions (manufactured with resident labor paid at least the national minimum wage).
Executive Branch Attention
The territorial jurisdictions are like States in most -- but not all -- Federal programs. They also lack the voting representation of a State in the Federal Government. The Interior Department has authority over matters concerning them that are not within the responsibility of any other agency but there is no special mechanism in the Executive Branch for ensuring attention to all concerns of the areas and coordinating policy concerning them. In addition, Guam raises a number of military-related issues.
President Clinton will announce his intent to have the Executive Branch place a greater focus on the situation, needs, and proposals of Guam and the other smaller territorial jurisdictions through a senior level interagency group co-chaired by the White House and the Department of Interior.
President Clinton will also announce that a member of the Secretary of Defense's staff will be designated to be available to Guam to address the territory's concerns.
Micronesia/Marshall Islands Aid Package
The Presidents of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands will be present on Guam. The United States' $2.5 billion, 15 year assistance commitment to these freely associated states expires in 2001. The compact with them requires negotiations on the issue beginning in 1999 (but does not require post-2001 assistance).
President Clinton will announce that the United States intends to begin talks in 1999 on providing the areas with assistance after 2001.
The President of Palau will also be present on Guam. The U.S. committed in the free association compact with Palau to build a road through much of its largest -- but largely undeveloped -- island. The extent of the commitment has been the subject of years of discussions.
President Clinton will be announcing a $150 million plan for the road.
Economic Development Plan
The Asian economic downturn and the downsizing of military activities on Guam have taken a toll on the island's economy.
The Interior Department's territories office will help Guam study its economic options.
Coral Reef Initiative
The President announced an effort to preserve the nation's coral reefs this year.
The Administration will propose special funding for reef protection near Guam and other U.S. territorial jurisdictions. The governor of Guam and other U.S. insular areas will be invited to serve on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.