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Let’s Make a Deal: StarKist looks to bring more pouch business to the territory

U.S. based StarKist Co., owner of StarKist Samoa cannery in Pago Pago, has informed the Lolo administration that American Samoa is the priority site for relocation of the company’s South American tuna pouch plant, but Gov. Lolo M. Moliga says there are three major impediments that local and federal governments need to address.


Lolo made the revelation in a letter last month to Eileen Sobeck, the Interior Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for insular areas, who invited the governor  - on behalf of U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar - to this month’s annual meeting of the federal Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA) in Washington D.C.


“StarKist Samoa has informed me that it will close its tuna pouch production plant in Ecuador [in South America] and American Samoa is the priority site for relocation,” Lolo wrote and cited three potential impediments to this plan that were raised by the cannery: land availability in the territory, the federal minimum wage with the next hike set for 2015 and the federal 30A tax incentive program, which is due to lapse towards the end of this year.


“Microstates like American Samoa lack natural resources to entice investments however, with federal incentives, American Samoa has been able to maintain the presence of the fish canning industry,” he wrote. “We fear that this capacity will be lost with the absence of the 30A and … federal incentive schemes.”


StarKist, the federal minimum wage, federal tax incentives and other issues pertaining to American Samoa’s economic future will be raised by Lolo during the IGIA meeting.


See tomorrow’s edition for more details.