25 May 2009

Saipan Chamber of Commerce warns of economic damage through federalisation

11:08 am on 25 May 2009

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce is warning that federalisation, due to begin in November, will damage the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas' fragile economy.

The comment follows a United States House subcomittee hearing last week, in which a majority of witnesses supported delaying the federalisation process further.

Federalisation is expected to see the US government disallow a visa waiver programme for Russian and Chinese tourists to the CNMI on security reasons.

But advocates for the rights of the territory's foreign workers believe federalisation will improve immigration status.

The Saipan Chamber's executive director, Kyle Calabrese, says the changes could result in a shortage of workers as some may leave and others struggle to get in:

"Once someone has a green card it's our understanding that they can travel and work anywhere in the US the same as any US citizen so I think there's a large concern that we already have an outflow of US citizens who are living and working here to the mainland because there are more opportunities and at better wages on the mainland. We don't expect a lot of people who have the ability to travel to and work on the mainland to necessarily stay here"