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Faleomavaega to miss Starkist board meeting

fili@samoanews.com

Because the U.S. Congress is in session, Congressman Faleomavaega Eni will not be on island this week when the StarKist Company board of directors holds its semi annual meeting that includes top officials of the company's South Korean owner Dongwon Industries. Officials attending, which includes board chairman Jae-chul Kim, started arriving over the weekend.

In a Nov. 11th letter, StarKist president In-Soo Cho informed Faleomavaega about the meeting from Dec. 6- 8th in Pago Pago, saying that "American Samoa holds a special place in Chairman Kim's heart as he spent significant time on island at the start of his long career in the fishing industry."

Cho said Kim, the Board of Directors and the StarKist executive team are looking forward to meeting on island for the first time in many years, and "we are eager to meet with our partners and colleagues while there."

"Our visit would not be complete without a meeting with you - I hope that you are available to meet while Chairman Kim and I are in American Samoa," he wrote to Faleomavaega.

And if the Congressman is unable to be in Pago Pago, the StarKist president says he would be happy to meet with Faleomavaega in Washington D.C. or at the company's corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh.

In a statement yesterday, Faleomavaega said that since Congress is still in session during this time, he is unable to make it to the territory but intents to follow-up in Pittsburgh with Cho after the Board meeting takes place in American Samoa this week.

"While I wish I could be on island this week to participate in the Board meeting, I have already updated Mr. Cho about the progress we are making to delay further minimum wage increases and to renew [federal] 30A tax credits, and StarKist is supportive of these efforts," he said.

The congressman said he is proud that Kim has taken such a historic step by holding the meeting in the territory and Kim should be "commended for showing such great respect for our tuna cannery workers."

"The people of American Samoa are also supportive of StartKist. This is why there is no doubt in my mind that Chairman Kim, the Board of Directors and executive team will receive a warm welcome from our cannery workers, our people and local leaders," he said. "I look forward to continuing our work together so that StarKist may remain in American Samoa into the future."

On his weekend radio program, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said the Dongwon delegation including Kim were scheduled to start arriving last Saturday afternoon followed by the StarKist executive team tonight.

Togiola said this is the first time that a major world company, which also has ties to American Samoa, has hosted a board meeting in the territory and he thanked the company's management for taking this action because this will also give them a chance to look at American Samoa and the local cannery operations.

The board meeting in the territory is a sign that the company wants to work together with the government and the people of American Samoa and this is the reason the administration is fully supporting StarKist, said Togiola.

The governor says that he told his cabinet meeting last week Friday that the administration will do all it can to support StarKist so the cannery will do well and in return benefit the territory and the government.

He said American Samoa needs these types of large companies, to support the local economy because it brings more jobs and other benefits.

StarKist spokesperson Mary Sestric told Samoa News last week that the meeting will include a review of American Samoa operations (includes plant tour) as well as overall 2011 business updates.



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