12 Feb 2008

American Samoa cannery head spells out impact of higher minimum wages

4:50 pm on 12 February 2008

The general manager of Star Kist Samoa, one of the two canneries in American Samoa, Brett Butler, says low labour cost countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Fiji will be ready to absorb any production that the local canneries can't provide.

Star Kist and fellow cannery Samoa Packing say the annual 50 cent hikes to the local minimum wage may force them to close.

The hikes are process demanded by federal authorities to bring minimum wages to the same level as on the mainland.

Mr Butler has told the territorial House of Representatives that the US commodity tuna market is fast declining and the two local canneries are already finding it harder to compete with foreign tuna producers.

"Tuna processing countries in North and Central America are now completely duty free under CAFTA - the Central American Free Trade Act - and NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Act - and in Africa [companies] are duty free currently under AGOA - the African Growing Opportunities Act. Wage rates in these regions are considerably lower than American Samoa's."