Cablegate: Director's Meeting with Coa Chairman Su: Cca Agenda And


DE RUEHIN #0923/01 1160533
P 260533Z APR 07






E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) Summary. On April 24, Director Young met with Council of
Agriculture (COA) Chairman Su Jia-chyuan to review a number of
issues, including the status and plans for the Consultative
Committee on Agriculture (CCA). Noting recent Executive Yuan (EY)
approval of the founding documents and imminent signing of those
documents in Washington, the Director and Chairman Su agreed the
next step is to develop a constructive agenda and suggested a
deadline of August to complete that task. Director Young also noted
recent progress and cooperation on several key issues, including
apples and rice. Chairman Su described ongoing problems with high
corn prices and the threat this poses to U.S. corn exporters. In
discussing the proposed renewal of the fisheries MOU, COA said it
will likely take some time to comply with a number of the
requirements raised by the U.S. side. End summary.

CCA: Time to Initiate Agenda Discussion
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. (SBU) Thanking COA for its coordination of the EY clearance
process, the Director noted the documents to establish the CCA are
now ready for signing in Washington, DC. He also noted that he was
recently in Washington and during his meeting with senior USDA
officials, confirmed that early fall remains the proposed date for
the inaugural meeting of the CCA in Taipei. The Director suggested
that both sides begin discussions on an agenda for the meeting and
raised the following as proposed topics:

A. Outlook for the WTO Doha Round: The Director pointed out that
President Bush has expressed U.S. determination to bring the round
to a successful conclusion. The Director also said that in his
meeting with Vice Premier Tsai earlier that morning, he suggested
that Taiwan show its support for the U.S. position and noted U.S.
concern over Taiwan's alliance with the G-10. (See reftel)
B. Energy Policy, Biofuels, and the Impact on Grain Prices
C. Review Results of Recent Bilateral Technical Discussions on
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues
D. Role of Agricultural Biotechnology
E. The Cooperative Program on Agricultural Sciences

3. (SBU) Director Young also pointed out that this summer's TIFA
meeting will include a number of agriculture issues and will help
pave the way for this fall's CCA. In response, Chairman Su suggested
that AIT and COA each propose suggested agenda items and review
these proposals by the end of July with a goal of finalizing the
agenda in August. Note: In preliminary meetings held in late
February, AIT Ag Chief proposed similar topics for the CCA agenda
and COA generally agrees. On item B, COA will likely want to explore
collaborative research and commercial opportunities with USDA and
others. In that earlier meeting, there was also agreement that each
topic should include an outcome that will guide future cooperation
and action. USDA has completed an internal review of topics, so both
sides are already fairly far along in the agenda-setting process.
End Note.

4. (SBU) Picking up on the WTO Doha theme, Chairman Su said that
some blame U.S. domestic support programs in agriculture as the
primary reason the Doha round has not concluded. He feels, however,
that pointing fingers and casting blame is not the answer. Rather,
what is needed is persuasion. Chairman Su noted that the EY is
determined to help conclude the round, recognizing that even though
Taiwan's agriculture will have to endure some "bitterness", the
overall benefits for Taiwan are definitely positive. He claims that
Taiwan is relatively open-minded on its Doha position, but its G-10
partners are more vocal opponents of liberalization. Nonetheless,
given the constant threat of pressure from China and as a relatively
small member, Taiwan feels compelled to remain in a grouping like
G-10 for the support and assistance it can provide.

Cooperative Efforts on Apples, Rice, and Grain
--------------------------------------------- --------

5. (SBU) Director Young acknowledged several specific issues and
programs where recent developments illustrate the value of continued
cooperation. One such issue is COA's initiative to review with USDA
the current Apple Work Plan. USDA will send a team of experts to
Taiwan in late June and we look forward to a constructive

6. (SBU) A second issue is Taiwan's March notification of its new
rice tariff-rate quota to the WTO. The Director reaffirmed the U.S.
agreement to help Taiwan address any objections that might be raised

by other WTO members and asked if there have been any questions
raised in Geneva. Director General Chen Wen-deh of the
International Cooperation Department said that Vietnam requested
details on Taiwan's rice import polices. COA responded with a
general description of import policies, but did not provide details
of the new quota system as notified to the WTO. He said that COA
has not yet received any comment from Egypt, but noted the comment
period does not close until June 15.

7. (SBU) The Director also expressed his understanding of the
difficulties current high grain prices place on COA and Taiwan's
livestock producers. He said that AIT and U.S. industry groups will
continue to provide updated market information to COA and Taiwan
industry groups and have technical programs planned that offer price
risk management training. Chairman Su said that corn prices have
jumped from about NT$5/kg to more than NT$7/kg. This is close to
Taiwan's own corn production cost of NT$8/kg. He also noted the
pressure to open Taiwan's market to Chinese corn and the likelihood
that alternative feed sources will be developed. He suggested that
should Taiwan producers switch to other suppliers or alternative
inputs, it will be very difficult for the United States to recapture
its current near total domination of a 4.5 million ton corn market.

Fisheries MOU: More time needed?
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. (SBU) The Director raised U.S. concerns that Taiwan still needs
to address specific conservation, management, and enforcement issues
as identified in the joint work plan before the AIT/TECRO Fisheries
MOU can be renewed. The existing MOU expires on July 30. The
Director noted that Taiwan needs to work with a number of regional
fisheries commissions, provide timely data on fish catch and
by-catch, help conserve sharks as a targeted species and conserve
turtles and sea birds as by-catch, adopt a plan of action concerning
Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IIU) fishing, and strengthen
enforcement to combat IIU.

9. (SBU) Director General Hsieh Dah-wen of the Fisheries Agency
noted that Taiwan's scale of operations is so large it may take time
to comply with this list of requirements. For example, FAO has
international plans-of-action for by-catch and Taiwan has its own
national plans for sharks and sea birds. DG Hsieh noted that the
United States proposed a so-called shopping list related to regional
fishery organization regulations at the March joint work plan
meeting. Taiwan plans to make a counter-proposal and, while it
intends to stick to the spirit of the current bilateral MOU with the
United States, it must still manage these regional regulation issues
multilaterally. DG Hsieh also made a plea for U.S. support for
Taiwan's membership status in some of the regional organizations.
Current observer status must be renewed every year.

10. (SBU) Comment: The exchange on WTO/Doha and apparent
willingness by COA to consider making tough political choices on
agriculture is a shift from its initial outright rejection of the
U.S. Doha proposal on agriculture. It suggests there is an
opportunity for a senior-level dialogue at both the upcoming TIFA
and fall CCA on the options available to Taiwan to moderate its Doha
position. End Comment.


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