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StarKist says commitment to AmSam remains strong

Potential impediments: minimum wage, tax incentive, land issues
fili@samoanews.com

StarKist Co. has no immediate changes planned for its South American operations, but continues its strong commitment to American Samoa, home of the company’s StarKist Samoa cannery plant, according to a company spokesperson.
 
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga had written to the U.S. Department of Interior, saying that he had been informed by StarKist that the company will close its tuna pouch production plant in Ecuador, and American Samoa is the priority site for relocation.
 
According to the governor, the company cited three potential impediments to this plan and they are land availability in the territory, the federal minimum wage law and the federal 30A tax incentive program, which is due to lapse towards the end of this year.
 
Samoa News e-mailed questions to StarKist spokesperson Mary Sestric for comments, such as when StarKist plans to close tuna pouch production in Ecuador; what is their decision so far in relocating production to American Samoa; has StarKist identified additional land in the territory for this project and if so, where? and any comments on the minimum wage and 30A tax credit.
 
“...as we celebrate 50 years of StarKist Samoa, the company has a strong interest in continuing our commitment to the territory and further investing in our operations there,” was Sestric’s reply via e-mail from the company’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Better clarity on wage costs, the federal economic development tax credit and additional land all make such investment more tenable.”
 
“In the meantime, while we continually evaluate the competitiveness of all StarKist operations, we have no immediate changes planned for Ecuador,” she told Samoa News early this week.
 
Asked for a reaction to the governor’s letter to DOI on StarKist, co-chairman of the Governor’s Economic Advisory Council David Robinson told Samoa News, that, “Whilst there may be some corporate issues to be sorted out to assist the company, the Governor and his Administration are well aware of the importance to the local economy of the Starkist operations.”
 
Additionally, the administration “will no doubt do everything possible to help the company in reaching satisfactory economic decisions to enable it to move forward with its expansion plans.”
 
Earlier this year, StarKist officials informed Lolo about its potential plans for expansion of local operations, but Sestric later told Samoa News that these plans are dependent on a number of significant factors.
 
Meanwhile, website fis.com reported late last month that South Korean-based Dongwon industries, owner of StarKist Co., has firmed up a partnership deal with Chinese firm, Bright Food Group, allowing Dongwon to enter the Chinese canned tuna market.
 
Bright Food, which is China’s largest food producer and distributor, will distribute and sell Dongwon canned tuna products, according to the website.



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