American Samoa Business Leaders to Form Advocacy Coalition In Support of Stronger Economic Policies for American Samoa

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Representatives from American Samoa’s largest employers and businesses have begun reaching out to other Territorial businesses and organizations to form an advocacy coalition to support stronger economic development policies. Leading in the formation of the group will be StarKist, Tri Marine, Polynesia Line, Hamburg Süd and others who directly or indirectly represent the largest portion of private sector employment in American Samoa.

The goal of the organization will be to serve as a supporting voice in Washington, DC as Congress and the Obama administration review and evaluate current and potential future federal policies related to the American Samoan economy.

“Congressman Faleomavaega and Governor Lolo are being both thoughtful and thorough in their review of existing programs and policies. We strongly support them and feel we in the business sector have an obligation to help their efforts,” said Mary Sestric, StarKist’s Director of Corporate Affairs. “StarKist is proud of our history in American Samoa and we hope to have a strong presence here well into the future. We have had a real stake here for the last 50 years. We consider ourselves to be part of American Samoa and therefore have an obligation to do our part.”

American Samoa is at an economic crossroads and can no longer rely solely on past economic policies that may have become outdated or ineffective in a dramatically changed global economy. Without a broad-based economic development plan to attract new investment the American Samoan economy will continue to deeply struggle.

“Tri Marine is making the largest recent investment in American Samoa by building a new cannery and helping the local fishing fleet to be better able to bring their fish to market. Through this investment we hope to help American Samoa return to be one of the leading economic hubs for the fishing industry,” said Joe Hamby of Tri Marine. “Helping the federal government to formulate economic development policies that focus on the future is a natural extension of our investment. We want to see the whole economy succeed – from the fishing to our cannery and the fresh and frozen fish operations, to the boats, to the shipyard, hotels, transport and all the other local businesses. We’ve made a commitment to American Samoa in the most concrete way possible – with our investment.”

“As American Samoa’s longest serving, continuous shipping line, Polynesia Line is eager to assist the American Samoa advocacy coalition in finding ways to grow and strengthen the local economy,” said Jens Jensen, President of Polynesia Line. “American Samoa has been the backbone of our business for forty six years and we are honored and duty bound to help the residents of American Samoa in finding ways to improve their lives through economic growth and opportunities.”

“As a carrier serving the South Pacific since 1953, Hamburg Süd feels privileged to participate with the advocacy coalition. In finding ways to strengthen the economy and lives of the residents of Tutuila, American Samoa,” said Juergen Pump, Senior Vice President of Hamburg Süd North America Inc.

Striving to ensure the American Samoan people have the tools they need to build a vibrant and thriving future, this coalition will work to achieve the following goals:

  •     Raise awareness of the unique and significant economic challenges faced by American Samoa and the importance of the territory to the United States;
  •     Provide experience-based, private sector input into the policymaking process;
  •     Serve as a voice to Congress in advancement of sound policy proposals and in protection of taxpayer resources; and
  •     Advance federal legislation to create jobs and to achieve viable, long-term economic growth and independence for the American Samoa economy.

The United States has a national interest in a prosperous American Samoa as an important strategic and symbolic foothold in the South Pacific for more than 113 years, and an obligation to the people of this U.S. territory with deep historical and military ties to the mainland. StarKist, Tri Marine, Polynesia Line, Hamburg Süd and their partners hope to keep those bonds strong by building a broad-based and diversified American Samoan economy for the future.

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Mark McCullough

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