Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has been invited to speak at the 2004 World Tuna Trade Conference to be held June 3-5, 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand.
“In a letter dated March 22, 2004, I informed Governor Togiola that I had contacted Dr. S. Subasinghe, Director and Coordinator of this conference, and asked him to extend personal invitations to our local leaders. I provided Dr. Subasinghe of Infofish with the names and contact information for Governor Togiola, the Lieutenant Governor, the President of the Senate, and Speaker McMoore and today Infofish has confirmed with my office that their invitations have been sent.”
“I am pleased by this outcome and I am hopeful that our local leaders will join me in Thailand for this important event. The ASEAN nations, including Thailand, are the largest foreign suppliers of tuna to the U.S. and Thailand is American Samoa’s largest competitor. The United States is also in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement with Thailand.”
“Again, I am fighting to protect American Samoa’s economy and future by opposing the inclusion of canned tuna in any agreement that may be negotiated. In fact, StarKist and I have joined together and stand united in our position to oppose duty-free treatment for Thailand. At this time, I am scheduled to testify before the International Trade Commission (ITC) on May 4, 2004 and fully explain why the jobs of more than 5,150 workers in American Samoa must be protected at all costs.”
“I am pleased that the President of StarKist, Mr. Don Binotto, is working closely with me on this issue. We are both committed to making sure that American Samoa’s tuna industry is protected. As we have repeatedly stated, a decrease in production or departure of one or both of our canneries could devastate our local economy resulting in massive unemployment and insurmountable financial difficulties.”
“Given that our economy is more than 80% dependent either directly or indirectly on the U.S. tuna fishing and processing industries, I believe it is in the Territory’s interest for our local leaders to know as much about the world tuna industry as possible and this is why I believe we should make our presence known at the World Tuna Trade Conference.”
“More than 500 professionals, including industry leaders, investors, policymakers and planners from StarKist, Chicken of the Sea/Samoa Packing, Thai Union, Bumble Bee, Europe, Thailand, the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and other countries are expected to be in attendance. The conference will focus on the latest issues and trends in the global tuna industry and will be dedicated to such topics as products, markets, trade policies, tuna cannery reduction and environmental issues.”
“Top tuna industry specialists and experts such as the Director of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the President of the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO), the President of Fong Kuo Fishery Co. of Taiwan, Thai Food Processors' Association, and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) may be in attendance.”
“I am hopeful that Governor Togiola and our local leaders will be able to join me in Thailand for the 2004 World Tuna Trade Conference and I look forward to speaking at this important event,” the Congressman concluded.