7 Feb 2008

CNMI chamber of commerce alarmed at economy

4:20 pm on 7 February 2008

The economy of the Northern Marianas is spiralling out of control according to the director of the territory's chamber of commerce.

CNMI was one of the rising stars of the Western Pacific during the early 1990s but its economy started to decline in the mid-1990s.

Alex Sablan says this was due in part to the Asian crisis, a decline in the garment industry, the pulling out of Japan Airlines and the rise in the cost of fuel.

He says federal immigration policy now threatens to hinder current efforts to develop the potential tourism markets of China and Russia, while a US department of labour report suggests that the rise of the minimum wage is also hitting them hard.

"It showed that this economy is reeling and that another increase scheduled for May 25th would be difficult for this economy to sustain so we are currently going through the halls of Congress to talk about the impact of federalisation of immigration and the increase of minimum wage. We're sort of out of sight, out of mind way out here in the western Pacific so trying to get them to understand what the impacts are going to be for a few thousand American citizens is a tough situation."

The director of the chamber of commerce, Alex Sablan.