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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (December 31, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Tonga's King Taufa‘ahau Tupou has stressed the importance of developing the Pacific kingdom's shipping industry.

In his Christmas and New Year message, he says there is a need to build a bigger slip way where local ships can be maintained and serviced, including the government's oil tanker, and passenger and fishing vessels.

He says this will save them the costly expense of going abroad for services.

The King says local marine engineers can provide quality services, as well as build ships locally.

In other points in his message, he says Tongans could study vegetable gardening in the government's newly acquired property of Tau‘akipulu in San Francisco, California.

He says growers in Tonga and other Pacific Island nations should plant two types of watermelons that can be sold to Japan, to get higher export revenue.

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