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Regional News

American Samoa must diversify economy or face economic disaster: report

PAGO PAGO (RNZ Pacific/Pacnews) — A new report from American Samoa’s government says the territory must diversify its economy or face a potential economic disaster.

The American Samoa Commerce Department this month released its draft economic development strategy, detailing what it calls a “harsh reality.”

The Commerce Department has come to a grim conclusion: if American Samoa’s last tuna cannery closes, it will trigger a catastrophic economic disaster.

The draft report on the territory’s development strategy for the next four years adds that it would likely send it into a deep and unrecoverable recession.

The 66-page document said for decades American Samoa has relied disproportionately on federal funds and tuna canneries, such as the remaining StarKist facility.

It lists 27 objectives for diversifying the economy, including reviewing the negative impacts of minimum wage increases and creating new industries.

The Commerce Department released the draft report on April 1 and has set a deadline of April 30 for public consultations.

The government is required to update its economic development strategy in order to be eligible for U.S. Economic Development Administration funding, according to the department’s director, Keniseli Lafaela.