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Tuvalu’s largest wholesale and retail business, operated by the Co-operative Society expects to lay off workers in light of the competition from foreign owned companies.
General Manager of Tuvalu Co-operative Society (TCS), Monise Laafai told PACNEWS that his office was working on a redundancy package for some of his 130 employees.
“We have had to lay off some casual workers to streamline our costs because of the stiff competition from foreign companies.”
One of the strongest competitors to TCS is the newly established Mackenzie Trading Limited, owned by Mackenzie Kiritome.
Mackenzie Trading, owned by an I-Kiribati national has been in operation since 2008, employing 40 locals.
“I see my business as providing an alternative for the people. Competition is good as it drives the price of goods down, Mackenzie told PACNEWS.
He has established small retail outlets in the outer islands to sell his merchandise.
“I am encouraging partnership with locals to set up their own businesses, said Mackenzie.
Local owners of retail shops also face competition from Asian businesses.
“We are concerned with the growing number of Asian businesses that have sprung up in Tuvalu in the past few years, said Halo Tuavai, a member of the Tuvalu National Chamber of Commerce.
He urged the government to check the background of Asian business people before they are allowed to set up their business on the island.
“People here have seen and heard lots of bad business habits that if the government doesn’t clamp down on these activities can bring a lot of problems for us.
“They appear to be dominating the local market. Government should keep the number they allow into the country as low as possible because they take away the opportunity from locals, Tuavai said.
According to the Tuvalu Business Centre there are only seven foreign owned businesses operating in the island.
“These are mostly Asian businesses in retail and restaurant business, said Loise Tinilau, the business development officer.
To invest in Tuvalu, an investor needs a start up capital of AU$20,000, a local partner and a business registration fee of AU$100
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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