|| Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he met with Chairman Kim Jae-Chul of the Dongwon Corporation on May 17, 2011 while in Seoul, Korea for the G-20 Speakers’ Consultation.
“I want to thank Chairman Kim for taking time to host me for lunch while I was in Korea,” Faleomavaega said. “Our time together gave us an opportunity to talk about StarKist operations in American Samoa.”
“From the first time I met Chairman Kim shortly after he purchased StarKist in 2008, he made it very clear that he is committed to American Samoa for the long-term provided we can help StarKist remain competitive. Part of being competitive means freezer storage space.”
“Both Chairman Kim and Mr. Cho have expressed serious concerns about the lack of freezer storage space in American Samoa. While ASG has not shared its views with me regarding this matter, what I do know is that StarKist needs freezer storage space and I hope ASG will act swiftly to bring about a resolution that will be beneficial to our largest private-sector employer and helpful to our local government.”
“Chairman Kim also expressed concern about energy costs, noting that ASPA rates are much, much higher than energy rates in Thailand. Without some way of curbing these rising energy costs, StarKist will have difficulty remaining competitive.”
“StarKist also wants to be sure it is being offered the same local incentives that Tri-Marine was offered. Frankly, I believe StarKist should be give the same incentives, and possibly more, since StarKist has been operating in American Samoa for decades and since Chairman Kim is currently employing a large workforce at StarKist Samoa. If StarKist can get the local support it needs, it will expand operations in the Territory.”
“At the federal level, we have successfully provided 30A tax credits and stalled further minimum wage increases. We have also secured $24 million in national disaster emergency grant funds which could have been used to re-train our cannery workers.”
“Both Chairman Kim and Mr. Cho have also made internal changes to make StarKist Samoa more competitive. Some of these changes have included making operations more efficient.”
“I appreciate that StarKist is doing its part and I support StarKist in its request to be provided the same benefits any other company gets by doing business in American Samoa. All StarKist is asking for is a level playing field and I believe if StarKist can get the freezer storage space it needs and reduced energy rates, we will have a successful, corporate partner for years to come.”
“Once more, I thank Chairman Kim for his commitment to our people and I look forward to working with him and our local leaders to make sure we do all we can to keep StarKist in American Samoa. The task ahead is difficult since we are competing against foreign nations where fish cleaners are paid $0.70 cents and less per hour. But, I believe American Samoa will succeed, especially as the American consumer learns more about which brands of canned tuna are truly made in the U.S.A.”
“Given that StarKist is the only brand of canned tuna that qualifies for the USDA’s Buy America program, I believe more Americans will begin to buy StarKist, and eventually Tri-Marine once production begins. This is my hope, and to this end I will be working,” Faleomavaega concluded.