The first of 16 Vietnamese factory workers at South Korean-owned Daewoosa Samoa garment factory have left for Vietnam.

The remainder of the more than 200 Vietnamese and eight Chinese workers are expected to return home by the end of the month.

American Samoa's governor, Sunia Tauese, says the circumstances brought on by the Daewoosa situation, when 11 contract workers from Vietnam were injured in a fight with Samoan workers in November 2000, have caused him to revisit the history of garment manufacturers on the island and to reflect on the future of the local industry.

He says the direct economic benefits have been fleeting and not of sufficient value to offset the injury that has been incurred, both to workers and to the image of the territory.

The governor says American Samoa's experiment with the garment industry has to be considered a failure and it was time to recognise that failure and take corrective action.

The Daewoosa plant, which was at the centre of the scandal, has now been closed.