26 Mar 2003

Marshall Islands businesses welcome US army base offer

11:24 am on 26 March 2003

Marshall Islands businesses say they will compete to provide goods and services to the Kwajalein missile testing base following an offer from its U.S. army commander.

Colonel Jerry Brown says he intends to turn to local businesses to provide supplies.

Jerry Kramer, the chief executive of the country's largest construction company, Pacific International Incorporated, says they've heard this before but this time the colonel seems really sincere.

Mr Kramer says businesses will shortly attend a trade fair on Kwajalein and see how sincere the offer is.

"We are going to test it, we are going to try, we will again attempt to do work on Kwajalein and supply the goods and services. It's an obvious marketplace for us and there is a lot of things that we can provide. We have large-scale fisheries, we export sashimi-grade tuna and what have you and Kwajalein imports these things. We manufacture bottles and bottled water here in the Marshall Islands. There is a lot of individual items that could in fact produce some real trade."

Mr Kramer's company has a six year-old lawsuit against the U.S. army engineers corps on Kwajalein over what he calls their discriminatory practices in awarding contracts.