TAHITIANS TO PROMOTE BLACK PEARLS The government of French Polynesia has launched a program to help the country's 300 pearl farmers sell more black pearls in the U.S. and Japan. The program is funded by a 10% increase in the country's export tax on pearls (to $1.54 per gram), says Martin Coeroli, president of GIE Perles de Tahiti, which represents the leading exporters of black pearls. Coeroli expects the increase to raise about $710,000. Of the total, $400,000 has been targeted for Japan, which takes 80% of French Polynesia's black pearl exports. A promotional campaign hasn't begun yet in the U.S., but $40,000 was allocated to organize the Black Pearl Association of the U.S. Salvadore Assael, president of the new association and the largest dealer of black pearls in the U.S., says the money is being used to help recruit members for the association and to study the potential market

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