U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to American SamoaAmerican Samoa is a small group of islands in the Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii. As a U.S. territory, American Samoa upholds the fundamental rights of the constitution, and its citizens are considered U.S. nationals.  The territory status of American Samoa keeps it from receiving foreign aid from other developed nations as the U.S. is the only nation to send foreign aid. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to American Samoa in many ways such as:

  1. Dedication to the reduction of carbon emissions
  2. Rebuilding coral reefs
  3. Economic growth through trade

Reduction of Carbon Emissions

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to American Samoa as the territory works diligently to improve environmental conditions.

In January 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a total of $10.7 million to the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency. The aid provided will go to strengthening its capacity to protect human health, the environment and vital water infrastructure. American Samoa has many projects to utilize the aid, benefiting and improving the lives of U.S. citizens as well as the U.S. nationals living on the islands.

American Samoa plans on severely reducing its carbon emissions and the emissions from diesel fuels, aiming for 100 percent renewable energy generation for the outer islands’ electric power system by 2040. In an interconnected world, the reduction of one nation’s carbon emissions can improve the air and water quality of the entire world in a global strategy for combatting climate change.

The Paris Agreement, currently supported by 175 countries, highlights the importance of every nation reducing carbon emissions. According to the U.N., carbon emissions from human activities are driving climate change which now affects every nation on the planet through: changing weather patterns, rising sea level, and the increased presence of more extreme weather events.

Health of Coral Reefs

The importance of coral reefs to the ecosystem and every human being’s quality of life cannot be understated. Often overlooked, coral reefs are responsible for protecting coastlines from flooding during tropical storms, providing vital marine life with shelter and assisting in carbon and nitrogen fixing.

The diversity of sea life is essential to the fishing industry in the United States. Many fish spawn in coral reefs. Juvenile fish spend a large portion of their time there before making their way to the open sea. Without coral reefs, the global economy would suffer huge losses of $375 billion annually from Australia to Florida.

Without the presence of thriving coral reefs, it is expected that more than 4,000 species of marine life that call the reef home face extinction. Among the multitude of species at risk are tuna, sea turtles, spiny lobsters and dolphins.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to American Samoa as American Samoa plans to use substantial portions of the foreign aid to revitalize these essential marine life and ocean ecosystems directly benefiting the lives of all U.S. citizens.

Economy and Trade

The economy of American Samoa is intricately linked with the U.S. economy. American Samoa conducts most of its commerce with the U.S. through imports and exports. American Samoa today is one of the world’s largest exporters of canned tuna, canned pet food and fish meal.

Home to the Chicken of the Sea and Starkist Samoa tuna canneries, American Samoa faces nearly zero tariffs when importing goods to the United States. This effectively works to keep costs low for consumers. Furthermore, American Samoa is exempt from the federal law prohibiting foreign commercial fishing vessels from offloading tuna at U.S. ports. It is estimated the tuna canning supplied to the U.S. is worth $500 million a year.

The economy of the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to American Samoa in more than just exports. American Samoa is also a consumer of U.S. goods generating $27.9 million in imports for 2016. Including American Samoa, the U.S. accounts for more than 25 percent of Samoan exports, while 10 percent of Samoa and American Samoa’s imports come from the United States.

The benefits of foreign aid are symbiotic. Through providing funds to empower American Samoa to take on environmental initiatives, grow local businesses and create valuable trade partnerships, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to American Samoa.

– Kelilani Johnson
Photo: Flickr