Disaster in Japan impacts Guam industry - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Disaster in Japan impacts Guam industry

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - With a scare of radiation from Japan seemingly in the past, other consequences of the disasters in the country are beginning to hit home here on Guam. From the far-reaching effects of a drop in tourism, to the localized result to small businesses, KUAM News sought insight on how Guam's economy is standing up in the face of adversity.

Ripple effects from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan continue to reach Guam, washing over the economy in a variety of ways. One way it has affected business at Tokyo Mart in Tamuning is a difficulty in getting a variety of vegetables from certain producers in Japan. "Right now, some prefecture vegetable is very hard to bring to Guam and the U.S. so the Japanese government said they cannot send it to everywhere,: said general manager Turo Kumagai.

He says they are able to get some produce from other prefectures but can't receive the same assortment as before the disaster, noting, "Spinach and green onions and also some fruits."

Focusing on Guam's economy on a larger scale are those attending and presenting at a seminar hosted by the Guam Chamber of Commerce. According to University of Guam economics professor Dr. Roseann Jones, the tourism market has already taken a hit. She said, "We are expecting a short term impact to our tourism industry but we don't expect a long-term impact."

Meanwhile, Bank of Guam's Joe Bradley said the delay of the military buildup from 2014 to 2019 and cuts in appropriations for the troop transition are other key factors shaping Guam's economic future.

Despite the earthquake in Japan and the pushback of the military buildup, economists at today's conference, project Guam's economy to still be on its way up. "Guam is doing so well compared to the region how can that be shared cooperatively with the buildup - what things can be traded how can the region grow together," said Jones.

Bradley added, "We are still looking at growth in our economy, just not as rapid as I had hoped for." Bradley, who is senior vice president and economic and market statistic officer at the Bank of Guam, says other variables may offset the drop in tourists from Japan. "I also anticipate some of the visitor arrivals will be replaced with temporary duty stationed military personnel and their dependants or relief workers who come internationally to Japan and who want to take a break," he said.

Now that the local government has signed off on an agreement with the Department of Defense that sets the standard for how projects will impact historic properties on Guam, for those in the business community like Monty McDowell, CEO of Advance Management Inc, the road to financial prosperity may finally be wide open. Says McDowell, "Looks like some contracts are hitting the million dollars worth, so maybe we are going to finally see a start and some economic salvation in short order," he explained.

But also in short order, Jones says she expects a rise in prices in commodity from Japan, especially in the construction area.  "It's been noted as an export economy because of the changes in Japan's economy imports to this region will probably be slowed," she stated.

A reality small businesses such as Tokyo Mart are already facing. Kamugai says
business is slow because they just can't get the merchandise to sell.

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