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Governor Togiola talks investment with Taiwan President

TAIPEI — In a meeting that was the first of its kind, American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono met with President Ma Ying-Jeou of the Republic of China (Taiwan) on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 in Taipei.

After welcoming Governor Togiola and his delegation from American Samoa to Taiwan and to the Presidential Office Building in Zhongzheng District, Taipei, President Ma spoke of the long standing friendship between Taiwan and American Samoa. He expressed his hope that this friendship and other mutually beneficial relationships would continue to strengthen and develop between the people of the two island countries over the coming years.

President Ma acknowledged that these relationships were perhaps much older than many people might suspect, as there is scientific evidence of ancestral relationships and blood ties between the native peoples of the two island groups.

President Ma then expressed his appreciation for Governor Togiola’s friendship to the people of Taiwan and for his leadership in the Pacific region. President Ma cited the Governor’s long service to the people of American Samoa and his commitment to sustainable economic development through, among other things, fisheries management and environmental conservation.

Governor Togiola thanked President Ma for meeting with him and for the invitation of the Government of the Taiwan to host the American Samoa delegation. The Governor expressed his appreciation for the Government of Taiwan, recalling that in 1997, when American Samoa was to host the 1998 South Pacific Mini Games, Taiwan’s government was the first to step forward to assist with the building of the grandstands at the venue, which later became Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna.

Governor Togiola stated that there have been other, very valuable contributions made to American Samoa by the Government of Taiwan in other areas, including agriculture, the fishing industry and the broader economy.

In addition to the Taiwan government’s assistance, Governor Togiola expressed his appreciation for the contributions of Taiwanese citizens and businesses in American Samoa. He stated that the Taiwanese fishing businesses in the Territory have been on island for nearly forty years and that while other such businesses left in hard economic times, these Taiwanese businesses remained, and were a mainstay.

Governor Togiola and President Ma then went on to discuss a number of issues, including the possibility of waiving entry permit requirements for Taiwanese visitors who wish to enter American Samoa. President Ma explained that over the last few years, Taiwan has acquired tourist visa waivers from more than thirty countries, including the United States. He said that many Taiwanese people are eager to travel to visit South Pacific countries like American Samoa.

Governor Togiola explained that he was aware of this opportunity to expand and develop American Samoa’s tourism industry. He agreed that American Samoa has much to offer to those in search of pristine natural beauty. Governor Togiola told President Ma that he would be pleased to present this proposal to waive entry permit requirements for Taiwanese tourists to the Legislature of American Samoa upon his return to the Territory.

In addition to meeting with President Ma Ying-Jeou, Governor Togiola earlier met with Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kuoyu Tung, who announced that the Government of Taiwan will shortly finalize a partnership with the Pacific Island Forum to establish a leadership academy, where young Pacific Island leaders will be offered opportunities to develop and hone their leadership skills and abilities by taking courses both at universities in Taiwan and at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Governor Togiola expressed his gratitude for Taiwan’s commitment to capacity building in the Pacific, expressing his belief that there were many young leaders in American Samoa who would benefit from such training.

While in Taiwan, Governor Togiola also met with senior government officials from the Department of Investment Services (Ministry of Economic Affairs), the Emergency Management Information Systems Taskforce (Ministry of the Interior), the Council of Agriculture, and he has taken invitations to call at the American Institute in Taiwan and prominent Taiwanese canner and fish product manufacturer, Tong Yeng Industrial Company, Limited.

Governor Togiola and his delegation also met with officials from the Taiwan Tuna Association, Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Co., National Pingtung University of Science and Technology and the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Council.

Governor Togiola today will depart for Hawaii where he will wind up his Taiwan trip at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu this Sunday, December 2ndin a meeting with Director General V.C. Chu.

Governor Togiola will arrive in the Territory on Monday night, Dec. 3, 2012.