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StarKist Co., president and CEO Choe and Governor Lolo to meet tomorrow

This Samoa News file photo from June 2015, shows StarKist Co., president and chief executive officer, Andrew Choe speaking to reporters during a news conference at the StarKist Samoa main office.  [photo: SN file photo]

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is scheduled to meet tomorrow — Tuesday — with StarKist Co., president and chief executive officer, Andrew Choe, who was to arrive last night from Honolulu and will be on island until Friday.

“At this juncture, no specific agenda items have been identified for the meeting,” the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said last Friday afternoon responding to Samoa News inquiries. He said they will know more by today (Monday) on the meeting agenda.

In a brief statement last Friday morning StarKist says that Choe, while on island, will spend time with employees at the StarKist Samoa plant, and also plans to meet with government and Fono leaders.

Choe — who will be on his third visit to the territory since heading up the company in November of 2014 — said it’s “always an honor” to be in American Samoa and looks forward to a productive time with StarKist Samoa leadership team and employees.

“It continues to be difficult for American Samoa to compete with other manufacturing locations where labor costs and other expenses are substantially lower and subsidized,” Choe is quoted in a StarKist statement.

During this visit, Choe said he looks forward to meeting with local leaders, both in government and business, “to discuss critical issues that are impacting StarKist’s business in American Samoa.”

StarKist along with American Samoa has been faced with many challenges in the past year, particularly due to federal regulations in areas such as restriction on fishing grounds impact fish supply, federally mandated minimum wage increases and federal tax benefits.

Despite the many issues working against American Samoa, StarKist said it remains committed to working with the governor, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, Fono leadership, “and the people of American Samoa to ensure a globally competitive and viable economic environment for conducting business in the territory.”

One long-standing issue for StarKist is efforts to secure land to building a freezer facility, in which the Lolo Administration last year offered ASG land at the old Satala Power Plant. It’s unclear if this is one of the issues to be discussed during Choe’s visit.

As of last Friday, StarKist has no plans to hold a news conference with reporters during Choe’s visit.