TONGA’S KING OUTLINES NEW INITIATIVES TO DRIVE DEVELOPMENT OVER THENEXT YEAR

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TONGA’S KING OUTLINES NEW INITIATIVES TO DRIVE DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT YEAR

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (June 19, 2001 – Tohi News Agency)---King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV has announced plans for shipping services, agriculture, inter-islands trading, exports, fisheries and even pineapple farming in Hawaii.

King Taufa‘ahau announced his initiatives while opening the Legislative Assembly on June 7, 2001.

According to the King, a new cargo vessel for Tonga to replace the ageing MV Fuakavenga is expected to begin operation next year. The MV Fuakavenga II, will be faster and have twice the capacity of its predecessor, facilitating the shipment of root crops and fruits like breadfruits, which are often forced to await air transportation from Tonga to New Zealand.

"Samoa is acquiring a similar vessel that, together with the new Fuakavenga, will make the transportation of goods from New Zealand and Australia quicker," King Taufa‘ahau said.

He also added that cargo from the U.S. to Tonga could be off-loaded in Pago Pago for transshipment to Tonga by the Fuakavenga at a cheaper freight rate than the direct shipment.

Tonga will also purchase a new barge to alleviate the problem of infrequent shipping services to smaller islands.

In agriculture, the King said negotiations with the Maui Pineapple Company in Hawai‘i are continuing and, once they are finalized, the company would begin planting pineapples on Tongan government leasehold land on ‘Oahu.

The plantation will produce fresh fruits for the American markets, the King said.

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