|November 21, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA REQUESTS FULL-SCALE HEARING FROM FONO ON ANDEAN TRADE ISSUE|
|Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that in response
to a letter from Senator Lutu Fuimaono, he is requesting a full-scale hearing
from the Fono on the Andean Trade issue.
“I believe it is extremely important for the people of American Samoa to be fully informed about U.S. trade policies that, if enacted, may devastate our local economy,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “In the case of the Andean Trade Preference Expansion Act, it is absolutely clear that if Ecuador and other Andean countries are given the same trade privileges as the U.S. Territory of American Samoa, our economy will suffer.”
“We must not, we cannot let canned tuna come into the U.S. market duty-free without some measures, including quotas, in place to protect American Samoa and the U.S. tuna industry,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “With this said, I believe the Fono should hold a full-scale hearing on the matter.”
“Most importantly, I believe the Fono should invite the CEOs of Chicken of the Sea and StarKist to testify at our hearings. This would be the first time in our 40-year relationship with the tuna industry that our local legislature would be able to question the top executives of these companies about their policies on important trade matters that directly impact the people of American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I believe these hearings should be made public. I believe participants should testify under oath. I believe witnesses should be questioned. I believe our local leaders should thoroughly examine the Andean Trade issue and take time to understand the serious threat this legislation poses for our economy and way of life as we know it,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I also believe the American Samoa Legislature should invite the U.S. tuna fishing fleet to testify. I believe there are many U.S. boat owners who would welcome the opportunity to participate in a full-scale hearing on the matter,” Congressman Faleomavaega continued.
“Although we are making progress in Congress to bring this issue to some kind of fair and reasonable resolution, discrepancies in testimony still exist. What one cannery said during our minimum wage hearings seems to be in direct contradiction to what this same cannery told the Senate Subcommittee on International Trade,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I believe it is important to address these discrepancies.”
“During the course of our last minimum wage hearings, StarKist testified that ‘a decrease in production or departure of one or both of the existing processors could devastate the local economy resulting in massive unemployment and insurmountable financial problems.’ As I have previously noted, COS Samoa Packing has indicated that it would be forced to lay off nearly 1,000 workers if the Andean Trade Agreement is not amended. Clearly our local economy cannot absorb this kind of job loss. Clearly the Andean Trade agreement, if not amended, will have a devastating affect on our economy. Yet StarKist has recently contended that the Andean Trade Agreement will not impact American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“To clarify this and other points, I would encourage the Fono to schedule hearings on the Andean Trade issue in January. I am convinced that it is time for our relationship with the U.S. tuna industry to be fully examined,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The bottom line is, U.S. trade issues will not go away. In a world of free trade, our Territory and the U.S. tuna industry will continue to face new challenges. We must prepare ourselves for these realities and we must do so through a concerted, united effort that protects the industry, the Territory and its people.”
“I want to thank Governor Sunia for his full support on the Andean Trade issue,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I have forwarded his recent letter of support to other Members of Congress who are firmly committed to assisting American Samoa in this critical time. I am hopeful that as a result of our joint efforts we will be able to work out a compromise that is favorable to all parties.”
“I also want to thank the 10,000 residents
of American Samoa who are lending their support to our efforts to save
the jobs of more than 1,000 local cannery workers,” Congressman Faleomavaega
said. “I am hopeful that further discussions and full-scale hearings
will lead to an increased sense of unity among our people. I am also
hopeful that those who have opposed our efforts will unite with us to protect
the interests of American Samoa in this time of national crisis.”
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