US TELEPHONE CALL-BACK SYSTEM NOT PREDATORY PRICING SAYS EAST-WEST

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CENTER EXPERT

HONOLULU (July 1, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---A telecommunications expert at Hawaii's East-West Center has dismissed Cook Islands charges that US long-distance telephone company call-back systems involve "predatory pricing" and "circumvent international telephone tariff systems."

Dr. Meheroo Jusawalla says this conclusion, by Cook Islands Minister of Telecommunications, Vaine Tairea, is totally incorrect. She pointed out that not just the US, but many nations worldwide, use legitimate call-back systems. In the Cook Islands case, she says, their telecom system simply is overcharging its own long-distance customers, way above actual cost. "It's no wonder," she added," their customers are pleased with the lower US rates."

Jusawalla suggests that the Cook Islands should reduce its current long distance rates, which she believes will result in a larger customer base. Increased revenues earned then can be used to permit development of more efficient and economically-operated telecom facilities, she pointed out, increasing Cook Islands revenues further.

Meantime, the East-West Center researcher says, international negotiations continue at the World Trade Organization in Geneva and elsewhere to encourage free trade worldwide in telecommunications equipment and services. This, she adds, will result in reduced telecom tariffs throughout the Pacific Islands region as well as the rest of the globe.

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