U.S. GOVERNORS SIGN ACCORD WITH CHINESE

News Release

CNMI Governor Office Washington, D.C. March 1, 2011

OFFICIALS

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) governor, Benigno R. Fitial, and the rest of the nation’s governors approved and witnessed the signing of a historic accord that establishes the China-U.S. Governors Forum between the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

The first of its kind, the new agreement aims to strengthen the two countries’ ties and establish a collaborative effort to address critical issues such as economic development, jobs creation, energy efficiency and tourism. Governors from China will join America’s governors for the first time at the summer meeting of the NGA in July. Likewise, American governors have been invited to participate at the China meetings in the coming fall.

Fitial shared with his colleagues that the accord could open doors for greater opportunities for the CNMI and other territories.

"With this new relationship status, the commonwealth’s push to for a permanent visa waiver program for Chinese tourists is poised to gain support," said Fitial. "I will get together with Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo and American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono to put together a solid plan that will be able to lure benefits to the territories."

Following the first day of the winter meeting, the nation’s governors were honored in a reception hosted by China’s ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

Fitial, first lady Josie Fitial, special assistant for management and budget Virginia Villagomez and Press Secretary Angel A. Demapan attended on behalf of the commonwealth. The ambassador greeted the CNMI delegation and expressed his appreciation for welcoming Chinese tourists and investors to the islands.

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