Hawaii’s Sister-States

DBEDT has established close working relationships with foreign governments and non-governmental organizations, federal agencies and national organizations. These relationships serve to raise Hawaii’s profile internationally, attract dynamic cooperative programs and stimulate Hawaii’s economy. Many of these projects fall under DBEDT’s Sister-State program.

In 1993, DBEDT recognized that in establishing sister relationships, economic benefit should be co-equal to the “historic purposes of friendship, cultural ties, and goodwill.” Consequently, any Sister-State relationship must provide for clear economic benefits. Hawaii’s Sister-State Policy was based on the following criteria:

  • Strong evidence of interest by the potential Sister-State.
  • Clear prospects for mutual economic advantage.
  • Substantial grassroots support for the relationship.
  • A strong record of activities.
  • Potential for expanded cultural, educational and government exchanges.

The report went on to state that:

  • Sister-State relationships are partnerships between governments, but require active and ongoing participation by the private sector to sustain the relationship.
  • Because the State’s capacity to manage Sister-State relationships is finite, a means of terminating moribund or defunct relationships should be provided.

Sister-States Process

DBEDT outlined the following process for establishing a Sister-State relationship:

  • A detailed application form will be provided after initial consultation with DBEDT regarding a proposed relationship. The form to be filled out by proposer will include questions on such areas as geography, economic structure, cultural resources, primary industries, foreign trade and business, and sports.
  • DBEDT will make a preliminary review and develop a recommendation to the Governor.
  • The Governor will review the recommendation and either hold the recommendation or forward it to the Legislature.
  • The Legislature will then adopt a concurrent resolution which authorizes the Governor to enter into an agreement with the prospective Sister-State.
  • DBEDT and the prospective sister develop the mechanics and language of the agreement and subsequent program of cooperation.

Sister-State Committee

The Sister-State Program is governed by Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 229 – Sister-State and Province Relationships. As part of this statute from 2006, a Hawaii Sister-State Committee was created (see Hawaii Revised Statutes 229-2 – Hawaii Sister-State Committee) within DBEDT in order to, “advise the Governor and the legislature on matters relating to Sister-State or province relations and relations, in general, between the State and the states or provinces of foreign countries.”

The Governor appoints five members, one member from each of five lists of nominees submitted respectively by the following: (1) Speaker of the house of representatives; (2)  President of the senate; (3)  Native Hawaiian cultural organization; (4)  East-West Center; and (5)  Hawaii State Association of Counties.

Committee Members

Jane ClementRepresenting: Hawaii State Association of Counties Exp. 6/30/2026
VACANTRepresenting: Native Hawaiian Cultural Organization
Kurt OsakiRepresenting: Speaker of the House of Representatives Exp. 6/30/2023 (Holdover)
Jean E. RollesRepresenting: East-West Center Exp. 6/30/2024
Eduardo Topenio Jr.Representing: President of the Senate Exp. 6/30/2023 (Holdover)

The Sister-State Committee periodically meets to consider Sister-State applications and other related business.

Committee Agendas / Minutes / Report

The next Sister-State Committee meeting will be posted here and include the Agenda and Materials.

The Committee meets on an as-needed basis at No. 1 Capitol District Building – 250 South Hotel Street, Conference Room 436, Honolulu, Hawaii. The agendas and minutes for the most recent meetings can be found below. Agenda are also posted on the State of Hawaii calendar. Type ‘Sister State Committee’ in the appropriate space bar and select or you can scroll to find it under DBEDT.

Committee Meetings and Materials

November 16, 2021Meeting AgendaMeeting MinutesMeeting Materials
Additional Material
March 15, 2021Meeting AgendaMeeting MinutesMeeting Materials
December 18, 2018Meeting AgendaMeeting MinutesMeeting Materials
September 29, 2017Meeting AgendaMeeting MinutesMeeting Materials

If you would like to submit testimony for a Committee meeting, please contact us per the information below.

Contact information

Email: selma.s.malcolm@hawaii.gov
Phone: (808) 586-2582
Mailing Address: 

Sister-State Committee/BDSD, DBEDT
P.O. Box 2359
Honolulu, Hawaii 96804


Sister-State Report to the Legislature 2023

*Reports for past years can be found on the DBEDT Reports webpage

These documents are provided in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format and require the Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing. This free software can be downloaded from Adobe Systems Inc.


Country and AreaProvince / PrefectureYear Established
PhilippinesIlocos Sur1985
PhilippinesIlocos Norte2005
PortugalAzores Islands1982