HAWAII IN THE PACIFIC
Conferees hope to netBy Susan Kreifels
accord on managing Pacific
Guam sits in the middle of the richest tuna fishing waters in the world, and it knows the big fishing fleets see their future in the western and central Pacific.
That's why Guam Sen. Carlotta Leon Guerrero is among 300 delegates of the world's biggest and smallest economies, all here to preserve this abundant resource as well as their own business interests.
"They can overwhelm the smaller fishing states," Leon Guerrero said about the major countries and their fleets.
A 10-day conference began here today on managing the tuna industry in the central and western Pacific. Representatives from 16 Pacific island nations and 10 Pacific Rim countries will focus on bigeye, skipjack, yellowfin and albacore tuna. They will discuss regulated areas, catch rates, transshipment at sea, and monitoring and enforcement at the International Fisheries Conference.
This is the fourth meeting in response to a 1995 United Nations agreement to conserve fish and resolve fishing disputes peacefully.
Ian Cartwright, deputy director of the Forum Fisheries Agency based in the Solomon Islands, predicted the session would be "the toughest fishing management negotiations in the world" because of the number and diversity of countries.
While large fleets are looking for profit and avoiding red tape, small island nations want a share of the gains: jobs for their citizens, canneries, support and supply businesses. And both sides need to sustain the tuna stock, now healthy, if the industry is to thrive long term.
The Pacific island catch averages more than 1 million tons a year, about one-third of the world's total catch. Hawaii's catch is 5,363 metric tons worth about $29.6 million and employing 2,350 people.
With 60 percent of the tuna catch made within the 200-mile economic zones of Pacific nations, property rights are a major issue.
"How can the islands get it right where other parts of the world got it so wrong?" Cartwright said. "This is their lifeblood."
Cartwright said the European fishing industry is an "overfished, bureaucratic nightmare" due to bad management and that the Pacific nations have a chance to avoid the same mistakes.
Hawaii businessesBy Susan Kreifels
encouraged to vie for
Hong Kong projects
Hawaii businesses, don't be shy.
Francis Ho, director general of industry for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, encouraged local businesses to compete for $30 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years.
"Come in and join the race," said Ho, who attended a seminar last week to inform local businesses about the projects. "Hong Kong has a very competitive economy but it's a level playing field."
Ho said Hong Kong is also interested in Hawaii's information technology and biotechnology -- using it there and being a bridge for it into China.
Major foreign companies will take the lead in the $30 billion worth of projects, but they need subcontractors in engineering, architecture, construction, consulting, and other specialized support, Ho said.
The best way for Hawaii businesses to enter the market is by hooking into a consortium or finding a local partner to guide them.
"I have a feeling the business sector here is still a little bit timid to get into Asia," he said.
Great Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Ho said the rule of law still prevails and the courts remain independent, as shown in a recent decision to allow Chinese with one Hong Kong parent to live in Hong Kong. The government was against such a ruling.
And the Heritage Foundation still ranks Hong Kong as the freest economy in the world, Ho said.
The $30 billion buildup includes railways, roads, public housing, and theme parks. Hong Kong is also considering a Disneyland.
Although Hong Kong is facing its first deficit budget in 20 years, it still has strong foreign exchange reserves. Putting money into public works will stimulate the economy, Ho said. Ho said the Hong Kong government helps foreign businesses wanting to set up in Hong Kong. The largest American Chamber of Commerce outside the United States also is located there.
Ho recommended Hawaii businesses contact the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in San Francisco as a first step. The number is (415) 835-9339, e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, and Web site http://www.hongkong.org.