21 Mar 2017
- By Lori Lyn C. Lirio - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
JERRY Tan, Marianas Visitors Authority board member and Tan Holdings Corporation president, met with 32 members of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam, including former Guam Gov. Felix Camacho, who were here to look into possible investment opportunities.
The chamber members were on Saipan for three days, from March 17 to 19, 2017.
“This is the first time that business people from the Guam chamber decided to visit to look for investment opportunities,” Tan said. “The interest is now not just coming from China or Korea or Japan. The interest is also coming from Guam. That tells you that people are interested in finding out whether there are good investment opportunities here. That’s a big turnaround from five to 10 years ago when everyone was leaving. Now, they are coming back and more people are interested in investing (in Saipan).”
On Saturday, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam and former Guam Gov. Felix Camacho had a sit-down breakfast meeting with Tan in the World Café at Fiesta Resort & Spa.
Tan briefed them about the history of the CNMI and its government budget, the new investments on island, charter flights and increased government tax collections.
Citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tan said the CNMI’s GDP increased 3.5 percent in 2015 compared to 2014’s 2.8 percent.
“When the economy grows, more businesses will open and there will be more jobs,” Tan said in an interview.
One of the challenges that he mentioned to the Guam chamber members is the CNMI’s limited human resources and the federal CW program that will end in Dec. 2019,
As for CNMI tourism arrivals, he said these are beginning to pick up again with 501,419 arrivals recorded in 2016. He said the biggest market is still South Korea followed by China. Japan, which used to be the islands’ primary market, is now a distant third in terms of market share.
Tan said Saipan has been receiving 109 international flights weekly, 50 of them are from Korea, 32 from Guam, nine from China, seven from Japan, six from Hong Kong and two from the Philippines.
He said business people looking for investment opportunities are important for the local economy which had been declining for many years.
“We have no control over the federal policies that affect us,” Tan said. “We have no control over what Washington wants to do in terms of cutting programs or grants, but I think we do have control over how we can continue to develop our local economy, create jobs and generate more tax revenue.”
But he said there is also a need for careful planning because the CNMI has very limited resources.
“We must make sure to avoid overdevelopment. We have to recognize the resources we have — if we don’t we will create problems for ourselves.”
Former Guam Gov. Felix Camacho said Tan’s presentation was very straightforward. He also noted that some of the challenges the CNMI is facing are due to airline regulations and federal government policies.