More information about Samoa is available on the Samoa country page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with the Independent State of Samoa (then called Western Samoa) in 1971 following its independence from a New Zealand-administered trusteeship in 1962. U.S. consular relations in the Samoan islands date back to 1856 when the first U.S. Consul was posted in Apia. Currently, the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, resident in Wellington, is also accredited to Samoa. The daily management of the U.S. Embassy in Samoa is carried out by a resident Charge d’Affaires.
Over the years the United States and Samoa have enjoyed a close friendship based on trust and mutual interest, strengthened by people-to-people ties between the two countries, particularly among Americans of Samoan descent. Due to cultural and historical links, Samoans share a special affinity for their “brothers and sisters” in the U.S. territory of American Samoa and frequent cultural and other exchanges, as well as close family and personal ties, have underpinned the relationship between the two Samoas and the U.S.-Samoa relationship more broadly.
In regional and international forums the United States and Samoa work together to mitigate disaster risk, manage fishery resources, promote sustainable economic development in the Pacific region, and strengthen the tenets of democracy and human rights. Through its embassy, the United States also engages with the Samoan Government on bilateral and multilateral issues including regional security and international law enforcement. In June of 2012 the United States and Samoa signed a Mutual Law Enforcement Agreement which allows Samoan maritime officials to utilize U.S. Coast Guard and Navy vessels to provide maritime policing in Samoan waters.
U.S. Assistance to Samoa
For over 50 years, a dynamic and active Peace Corps mission has formed the foundation of U.S. assistance to Samoa. With their focus on people-to-people engagement and practical solutions to developmental challenges, U.S. Peace Corps volunteers have provided significant assistance to Samoa’s educational and economic development and have earned the respect of many throughout Samoa. Today in the Samoan language the word “Pisi Koa” (Peace Corps) is now used as the general word for volunteer.
Two Fulbright programs currently exist in Samoa. The Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship is open annually to Samoan citizens residing in Samoa pursuing a Master’s degree. Successful candidates at the national level then compete for limited slots with applicants from the Pacific region. Samoa has also benefited from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. One student per year is placed in a public institution to work and research under the assigned institution.
The United States also provides significant additional assistance to Samoa, including an annual foreign assistance allocation to provide capacity building and training for the Samoan Maritime Police and frequent invitations for training and mentoring sessions for Samoan government, NGO, media, and private sector individuals. USAID has several projects in Samoa focusing on climate change, food security, and disaster preparedness. The U.S. Embassy also provides grants to civil society and private sector organizations to address issues of economic development, women’s empowerment, health, disaster risk mitigation, and education. Since 2013, the United States has constructed a hospital opposite the international airport, as well as renovated or rebuilt several schools around the country.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Total trade U.S. in goods with Samoa was $46 million in 2018; U.S. goods exports to Samoa totaled $39.1 million and goods imports from Samoa were $6.9 million. According to UN Comtrade data, the United States is one of Samoa’s largest export markets, accounting for more than 10 percent of Samoan exports in 2018. Approximately 10 percent of Samoa’s total imports come from the United States; American Samoa accounts for an additional 27 percent of Samoa’s imports. Top U.S. exports from the United States include meat products, aircraft equipment, and machinery, while top imports from Samoa include fruits and vegetables, animal or vegetable fats or oils, textiles, and seafood. Remittances from Samoans living in the United States, including American Samoa, contribute substantially to Samoa’s economy, and a significant number of Samoans are employed in American Samoa. U.S. direct investment on a historical-cost basis in Samoa has remained consistent at approximately $20 million per year since 2014. Data on Samoan investment in the United States is not publicly available in order to avoid disclosure of data of individual companies.
Samoa is eligible for trade preferences under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. In 2018, approximately 32 percent of Samoa’s exports to the United States received preferential treatment under the GSP program. The United States cooperates with Samoa on economic and trade issues while promoting U.S. exports to Samoa, reducing barriers to U.S. goods and services, and protecting the interests of U.S. investors.
Samoa’s Membership in International Organizations
Samoa is an active member of regional and international organizations and with the United States is a member of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. Samoa is also very active in the Pacific Islands Forum and is a founding member of the Polynesian Leaders Group. Samoa hosted the UN’s 3rd Small Islands Developing States Conference in 2014, the Pacific Islands Forum in 2017, and the Pacific Games in 2019.
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Samoa has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States.
More information about Samoa is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: