Guam not included in US free trade agreements

(Port Authority of Guam file photo)

Guam is not included in the free trade agreements established by the United States with Japan or Korea, despite the fact that such agreements were negotiated within the last decade.

This issue was touched upon by Congressman Michael San Nicolas during his congressional address before the Legislature today.

“Your congressional office fully understands the needs for meaningful economic diversification mobilization and access to markets. Alarmingly, in attempts to facilitate constituent requests for aid in their exports to our Asian markets our office found that Guam is not included in the US free trade agreements,” San Nicolas said.

As a result, San Nicolas said Guam does not enjoy the lower negotiated tariffs in countries with trade agreements with the US. This results in Guam exports being tariffed at higher world market rates.

San Nicolas said this is unacceptable and his office is actively engaging with the US International Trade Authority and the US Department of Congress to address this.

“Our findings thus far have been a paradoxical blend of disappointment, hope, and intrigue. First, it was made plain that attempts to amend existing trade agreements on an itemized basis, specifically to address the inclusion of Guam, would be surprisingly impractical. A multi-agency response will be necessary not only within the United States and in the countries we wish to engage,” San Nicolas said.

He added: “And initiating such a bilateral action and incurring the necessary associated costs and time commitments for present-day nearly non-existent export environments such as ours would not be feasible.”

To remedy this, San Nicolas said his office is working to ensure that the oversights of the past that left Guam out of the trade agreements in the present are not repeated in the future.

“The need to include Guam in future trade agreement language of the United States should be self-evident, and our circumstances have already been elevated to the Secretary and Trade Representative levels and the Biden administration said any movement towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or any similar bilateral or multilateral trade regime would not exclude our territory, inadvertently, or otherwise,” San Nicolas said.