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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, May 23) - Two U.S.
Congressional members have requested that the U.S. General Accounting Office
(GAO) conduct a study on foreign investors in American Samoa.

The study is one of Congressman Faleomavaega Eni's promises made
during last year's campaign and some territorial lawmakers have raised concerns
in the Fono over the increasing number of foreign owned businesses in the

The request to the GAO came from Faleomavaega and Congressman
Nick J. Rahall of West Virginia, ranking member of the U.S. House Resources
Committee. Faleomavaega is also a member of the Resources Committee.

In a May 14th joint letter to GAO's comptroller general, David
M. Walker, the two congressional representatives note their commitment to
reviewing the fundamental issues facing the insular areas.

In particular, Faleomavaega and Rahall are concerned about
economic development and self-sufficiency through the private sector and
accountability for federal funds.

"There has been a marked growth over the last 20 years in
foreign investment in American Samoa which warrants a GAO study to determine its
effects on the local economy," Faleomavaega and Rahall said in a copy of
their joint letter obtained by the Samoa News.

"While an infusion of foreign investments into the
Territory may appear to be positive, we believe that the proliferation of
foreign investment has in fact come at a price to local business," the
congressional members point out.

They claim that in the past 20 years there has been a decline in
locally owned businesses and a disadvantage in the market place to local
business owners which results in economic growth resting in the hands of a few
who in turn reinvest outside the territory.

During the campaign and also in Samoa News interviews,
Faleomavaega raised the question of how much the foreign owned businesses and
investors are taking out of the local economic back to their home countries and
how much is actually re-invested here.

While he is not against foreign nationals or investors setting
up businesses in American Samoa, or "making a fair profit,"
Faleomavaega had said he is against "foreign investors who separate
themselves from our community, and whose only purpose is to control the economic
well-being of our territory, and then seek only to take their profits to their
home countries at the expense of our government, our people, and our

In their joint letter this issue was also raised on foreign
owned businesses separating themselves, through their chambers of commence
instead of joining together with the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce.

"There appears to be a lack of cohesion in the local
business community," the Congressmen points out. "The Territory has
seen the creation of Korean, Chinese and Filipino Chambers of Commerce which has
led to questions regarding the equality of business opportunities in the
Territory and whether uniform business standards apply."

"Specifically, we would like to determine what percentage
of private business in the Territory is foreign versus local, what types of
businesses foreign investors are involved in and from whom they import their
goods and products," the text of the members' request said.

The Congressmen would also like the study to focus on
determining what the foreign business practices are, what the current corporate
laws are in American Samoa, whether foreign investors are offered any incentives
to operate in the Territory and what percentage of their investments are
re-invested in the local economy.

"Over the years," the joint letter said,
"Congress has authorized a substantial amount of funding to the Territory
through direct appropriation and federal programs."

The Congressmen called on Walker to determine what amount of
federal assistance foreign investors have received and whether this comes at a
detriment to local businesses.

May 26, 2003

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