Local business owner concerned about foreign shop takeovers

By Mathias Huckert 01 July 2016, 12:00AM

“We are a local business. We will never be able to compete with the prices offered by the Chinese [shops] if they are so especially cheap”. 

With these words, Moe Lei Sam expressed worries about the current market situation in Samoa.

In her business, the Variety Shop, that is run by Moe Lei Sam’s family for almost fifty years in Apia, she is blaming the government for the problematic situation she finds herself in.

“When I first approached one of the members of the parliament, he said to me that there is a limitation of Chinese [people] having businesses in Samoa. But as far as I can see, there is absolutely no such limit.”

According to Lei Sam, her own business has to manage several difficulties because of the many new shops in the area. 

“There are so many of [new shops under Chinese management] and that is just unfair to us local business owners who have been running their shops here for years. When I hear about [Chinese] coming here and buying our lands, I have to ask myself: What are we going to do about that?”.

As a solution for this problem, Lei Sam suggests stricter regulations concerning Samoa’s immigration policies. 

“The government simply has to stop it. It is as simple as that. I do not blame any visitors from anywhere coming in and visiting our country, as tourists for instance. But if they come and open businesses and buy land, to me that’s a big no-no.”

On a long term, the local shop owner especially voiced her misgivings about the country’s future generations. 

“Samoa is only a small island. What is going to happen with its young generations? I am really worried about the years to come.

When I hear about the Prime Minister allowing all these Chinese to come to Samoa because it is ‘good competition’, and that it is positive because that will generate new jobs for Samoans, then one has to take a closer look.”

Ms. Lei Sam pointed out, that according to her personal experience, “Chinese Shop owners who came here recently, brought their own workers along with them”.

As an example for this development in Samoa’s local world of business, Moe Lei Sam showed a receipt: “This receipt is from a big Chinese shop, but it still has the name of the former Samoan owner on it. What is going on here? I am so angry about that”.

However, the business woman did clarify, that she does not direct her complaints against the Chinese people themselves. “I have nothing against them, my father has a Chinese background.

But it’s the government of our country that has to do something about this situation, because it affects all our local businesses in a negative way."   

By Mathias Huckert 01 July 2016, 12:00AM

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