Dev’t plan for Northern Islands eyed to kick off this year

NI to utilize free trade zones for value-added eco-tourism, heritage tourism destination

The Northern Islands might start seeing more economic activities soon, after Mayor Jerome K. Aldan disclosed that they would start utilizing the islands’ free trade zones this year.

Aldan said that plans are afoot early on for his administration to focus on value-added products such as eco-tourism and heritage tourism and the construction of a replica of an ancient Chamorro village.

Aldan planned to meet with Department of Public Lands Secretary Pete A. Tenorio last Friday, Feb. 27, to impress upon Tenorio the compelling need to effectuate his representations before the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation dealing with the issue of agricultural homesteads.

Aldan said he will insist this year that Tenorio comply with the requirements mandated in Public Law 18-16 enacted last year that now includes the Northern Islands in the free trade zone economic diversification policy of the CNMI.

“I will simply explain to Tenorio the mandate I have under the free trade zone law and exigencies that he is keenly aware of from my past meetings with him in his capacity as DPL secretary,” he said.

Aldan said that economic activities that are envisioned in PL 18-16 or free trade zone involves high capital investment and negligible impact on the environment, or eco-friendly tourism that provides valued and meaningful training and employment opportunities for the Northern Islands.

These include socio-economic development investment priorities of the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office such as specialty crop agriculture, community gardens, floriculture, cultured fishing, cultured black pearl, shell crafting, environment-friendly and low footprint tourism such as eco-tourism, agri-tourism, etc., hot spring and black sand health, sun and wellness, aquaculture, films and filming, a scientific research laboratory for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, flight training, skydiving, cultural learning institute, study tours research and summer exploratory camps catering to students.

“This law is significant, as it is designed to boost economic diversification in the CNMI. Public Law 18-16 articulates the CNMI’s preferred set of economic activities for diversification that are environment-friendly and compatible with tourism and related business, industry, and commercial activities,” he said.

Aldan said these activities should be strategically located near a seaport, the airstrip (airport), and other suitable locations in and around Pagan Island and other islands in the Northern Islands.

“We actually started this venture last year following the enactment of Public Law 18-16, and now that I am mayor, I want to get the NI Mayor Frontier Resettlement and Redevelopment Investment 2020 moving forward in full force through the FTZ and related activities during my first year in office,” Aldan said.

The idea of FTZ development came about three years ago at the first Northern Frontier Summit in 2012 hosted by the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office.

Since then Aldan, as a former program manager for Northern Islands Mayor’s Office, began preparatory efforts to get the project going.

“As mayor, I intend to pursue with due diligence and good faith effort the expectations required under the law to get it to work for the benefit of the people of the Northern Islands and the CNMI,” he said.

Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at

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