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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:59 a.m., Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State gives financial details of Asia trade missions

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

DFS Hawaii, Ko Olina Resort and Marina, Castle & Cooke and Dole Foods gave a combined $140,000 to sponsor two state-led trade missions to Asia in 2004 and 2005.

The largest sponsor, DFS, a duty-free retailer at Honolulu International Airport, gave $35,000 in cash and $5,000 in in-kind contributions in response to solicitations by Gov. Linda Lingle's administration, according to information provided to The Advertiser under a freedom of information request filed last summer. In a response to that request received today, Lingle provided details on some of the more than $827,000 in cash and in-kind contributions raised from Hawai'i businesses and organizations since 2003 to defray the cost of trade missions.

The donations are in addition to actual travel expenses, which business participants paid separately.

Money raised by sponsors paid for a variety of trip costs, including more than $37,000 for entertainment on one 10-day trip last summer. That included a $9,500 reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and a $13,600 reception for the governor of China's Guangdong province. In addition, nearly $7,000 of sponsorship money went to the non-profit Pacific & Asian Affairs Council, which collected and spent sponsorship money for the state.

Lingle economic aide Ted Liu says the business donors are needed to offset the costs of trips such as last summer's 200-person trade mission to China and South Korea. Administration officials also said that all previous administrations sought similar private-sector support for trade missions.

However, the Lingle administration has been criticized for seeking large cash contributions from businesses that have regular dealings with the state and for promising such businesses special benefits in return.

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8093.