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By Caroline Tiriman

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (August 2, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Solomon Taiyo, the country’s largest commercial fishing company, announced this week that it will shut down part of its operations due to ethnic fighting in the country.

The company’s general manager, Hideo Toshi Ito, said the move comes after one of its fishing vessels was hijacked in Western province by three armed men.

Rick Ho, governor of the Solomon Islands Central Bank, said the closure will add more strain to the country’s worsening social and economic situation.

"The company is not just a major export earner, but also a big employer," Ho said. "It’s going to be a hit."

The Solomon’s economy has been on a downward spiral ever since the two-year-old ethnic fighting began. Among the country’s largest companies that have closed because of the fighting include Gold Ridge Mining and Solomon Islands Plantation Ltd. (SIPL).

Smaller companies on Guadalcanal have also closed, including Solomon Brewery and several producers in the coconut industry.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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