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Cablegate: Bfif Request for Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh

VZCZCXRO7835
PP RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHCHI #0011/01 0221422
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221422Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0649
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 0066
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 0027
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 0830
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0703

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 CHIANG MAI 000011

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP BTIO TH LA CB CH
SUBJECT: BFIF REQUEST FOR CHIANG MAI, VIENTIANE, AND PHNOM PENH

REF: 07 STATE 159597

CHIANG MAI 00000011 001.2 OF 006


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. The Greater Mekong Subregion's North-South and East-West
corridors form a "golden gateway" linking southern China and all
the countries of mainland Southeast Asia. This vast market
provides significant opportunities for U.S. businesses. At the
heart of the Greater Mekong Subregion are three U.S. missions -
Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh - all of which are
non-commercial presence posts. Our three posts are pleased to
submit a joint request for support from the Business
Facilitation Incentive Fund (BFIF). Our proposal centers on
collaboratively holding a series of conferences that will bring
together U.S. and regional business executives to explore the
development of new opportunities in this dynamic region. We are
pleased to have support in this effort from Embassy Bangkok,
ConGen Chengdu, the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok, and
the United Parcel Service. End Summary.

-------------------
REQUEST FOR FUNDING
-------------------

2. Consulate General Chiang Mai is pleased to submit a request
for funding from the Business Facilitation Incentive Fund (BFIF)
for FY2008 on behalf of the following posts: Consulate General
Chiang Mai, Embassy Vientiane, and Embassy Phnom Penh. Though,
as non-Commercial Service posts, our resources for business
promotion and commercial outreach are limited, the eagerness of
these three posts to engage in these activities both
independently and cooperatively makes us strong candidates for
BFIF support. Our posts appreciate the opportunities that the
BFIF provides to small posts like Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and
Phnom Penh, which are located at the heart of a key economic
region, the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Posts appreciate
the Department's careful consideration of our proposed projects.

-------------------
OUTLINE OF PROPOSAL
-------------------

3. Because of the regional nature of economic development in
mainland southeast Asia through the Greater Mekong Subregion
(GMS) project, Consulate General Chiang Mai, Embassy Vientiane,
and Embassy Phnom Penh have worked collaboratively to produce
one BFIF proposal that includes proposed projects for the
subregion and the individual posts. Posts organized this
proposal as follows:

I. Proposed Collaborative Regional Projects

II. Proposed Chiang Mai Projects

III. Proposed Vientiane Projects

IV. Proposed Phnom Penh Projects


-------------------------------------------
I. PROPOSED COLLABORATIVE REGIONAL PROJECTS
-------------------------------------------

4. The Greater Mekong Subregional Economic Cooperation (GMS-EC)
program is a regional effort among the countries and provinces
of the Mekong river basin to develop infrastructure with the
goal of expanding trade and growth in the region. Though
transportation - specifically the development of north-south and
east-west highways - is the most active component of the GMS-EC
program, other components include cooperation on
telecommunications, tourism, the environment, and human resource
development. At the heart of the GMS-EC program are three U.S.
missions - Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh - which are all
non-commercial posts. (Consulate General Chengdu is also active
in this proposal but is a commercial-presence post and is not
requesting funding.) The three non-CS posts are requesting BFIF
support to host or support a series of two conferences in FY2008
in Chiang Mai and Phnom Penh and a third and final conference
organized by Embassy Bangkok in FY2009. Each post will organize
its respective conference as described in the following
paragraphs.

5. GMS-EC Conference #1: Developing the Logistics Sector in the
Greater Mekong Subregion. Consulate General Chiang Mai is
pleased to request BFIF support for the first of this proposed
series of conferences related to the GMS-EC program. Northern
Thailand, specifically the nine most northern provinces of
Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Phayao, Nan, Lampang, Lamphun,
Mae Hong Son, and Tak, serves as a crossroads for the

CHIANG MAI 00000011 002.2 OF 006


North-South and East-West corridors of the GMS-EC program. In
addition to the growth of infrastructure, a key sector that
local business and government leaders expect will benefit from
the GMS-EC program is logistics.

6. Post proposes, therefore, that the first of this series of
conferences focus on the development of the logistics sector.
Post recommends a two day conference including speakers from the
public and private sectors in Thailand, China, Laos, Cambodia,
and the U.S. Recommended topics from local industry leaders
include human resource development, managing trade in services,
logistical management of the GMS transportation network, and a
case study of the logistics of the U.S.-Mexico trade
relationship.

7. The estimated cost for the conference at a local hotel is
$15,260 (including $5,260 for hotel space and coffee hours;
$6,000 for airfare for approximately 10 speakers from
neighboring posts; and $4,000 for translation services in Thai
and Chinese). The United Parcel Service (UPS) has agreed to
sponsor one evening reception, and the American Chamber of
Commerce in Bangkok has agreed to reach out to other relevant
U.S. companies for participation. Post will plan for the
conference from January through mid-March, with the conference
taking place March 18 and 19, just prior to the 175th
anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Thai diplomatic
relations on March 20. Post will evaluate the success of this
conference based on surveys conducted at the conclusion of the
event.

8. GMS-EC Conference #2: Developing the Energy Sector in the
Greater Mekong Subregion. Embassy Phnom Penh is pleased to
request BFIF support for the second of these proposed series of
conferences related to the GMS-EC program. Along with
transportation networks, the GMS countries have agreed to
develop an interconnected power transmission grid which will
allow GMS countries that produce surplus energy to sell it to
other GMS countries, leading to business opportunities in
efficient energy production and distribution.

9. Cambodia's electricity infrastructure is the least developed
in the region, and prices for electricity are among the highest.
Most electricity is generated using heavy fuel oil or diesel and
costs $0.20/Mwh in the city and up to $1.00/Mwh in rural areas,
significantly higher than in neighboring countries. Despite the
high prices, demand for energy is increasing 20% annually, with
high levels of economic growth putting pressure on the already
overburdened system. Regionally, high levels of economic growth
are also putting strain on domestic producers, who must identify
new opportunities to increase production capacity. To address
this problem, the Cambodian government expects to cooperate with
the construction of GMS power transmission lines and is seeking
$3 billion in energy-production investment. Government leaders
believe Cambodia has potential for the development of
hydropower, as well as other alternative and traditional forms
of power generation.

10. Post proposes, therefore, that the second of this series of
conferences be hosted in Cambodia and focus on the development
of the energy sector. Post recommends a two day conference
including speakers from the public and private sectors in
Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Laos, and the U.S.
Recommended topics include GMS energy needs and strategy 2008 -
2020, government procurement, GMS power generation
opportunities, hydropower and other renewable energies,
development and management of the GMS power transmission
network, environmental issues, and a case study.

11. The estimated cost for the two-day conference at a local
hotel is $8,000 (including $4,000 for hotel space and two coffee
hours; and $4,000 for airfare for approximately 10 speakers from
neighboring posts). Post plans to organize one dinner hosted by
a local business group. Post will plan for the conference from
March through October, with the conference taking place October
24. Post will evaluate the success of this conference based on
surveys conducted at the conclusion of the event.

12. Embassy Bangkok will organize a third conference to be
planned in FY2009.

13. Embassy Vientiane requests funding to attend the conferences
on Developing the Logistics Sector and Developing the Energy
Sector in the Greater Mekong Region and will support both posts
in finding appropriate speakers from Laos. As the "land-linked"
country at the center of the GMS region, Laos and its
infrastructure play a critical role in facilitating regional
trade. Estimated cost for econoff and commercial LES to attend
both conferences is $3,438.

14. Embassy Phnom Penh requests funding to attend the conference

CHIANG MAI 00000011 003.2 OF 006


Developing the Logistics Sector in the Greater Mekong Subegion
and will support Consulate Chiang Mai in finding appropriate
speakers from Cambodia. Cambodia, too, is a central player in
the GMS transportation network, with the Southern transportation
corridor connecting Saigon to Bangkok passing through Cambodia.
Estimated cost for econoff and two economic/commercial LES to
attend is $2,175.

15. Consulate General Chiang Mai will send econoff and econLES
to the conference on Developing the Energy Sector in the Greater
Mekong Subregion using post funds.

16. Total requested regional BFIF budget is $28,873.

--------------------------------
II. PROPOSED CHIANG MAI PROJECTS
--------------------------------

17. Consulate General Chiang Mai requests BFIF support to
conduct the following four post-specific activities:

-- Host a one-day workshop entitled "Business Skills for
Entrepreneurs" for local small and medium enterprises (see
paragraph #18);

-- Develop an electronic and print toolkit for potential
American investors on doing business in northern Thailand (see
paragraph #19);

-- Send econLES and econoff to education industry tradeshow in
Washington, DC (see paragraph #20); and

-- Send econLES and econoff to Commercial Diplomacy Training in
Bangkok (see paragraph #21).

18. Chiang Mai Project 1: "Workshop for Local Entrepreneurs."
Northern Thailand is at the crossroads between an agrarian and
knowledge-based economy. While the agricultural sector still
dominates the economies of the 15 northern provinces, pockets of
IT manufacturing in Lamphun province and services in Chiang Mai
province suggest that change is on the horizon. In an effort to
contribute to the evolution of the northern Thai economy, post
proposes hosting a workshop entitled "Business Skills for
Entrepreneurs." This one-day workshop targeting new small and
medium business owners will invite lecturers from local graduate
business programs and successful northern Thai small and medium
enterprises as speakers. This project meets the following goal:
to develop a country's export market or trade capacity.
Planning period is April 14 - May 2. Invitations will be sent
on May 5, and the workshop will take place on May 23. The
estimated combined cost for a hotel space, two coffee hours, and
honoraria for speakers is $3,000. Post will evaluate the
success of this event by three methods: (1) the number of
participants, (2) the results of an evaluation completed at the
end of the workshop, and (3) follow-ups with selected
participants on how skills acquired at the workshop were applied
in their businesses.

19. Chiang Mai Project 2: "Toolkit for Investing in Northern
Thailand." The combined development of human capital and
infrastructure in northern Thailand positions this region as a
desirable, lower-cost alternative to Bangkok for foreign
investment. As interest among U.S. investors in this region
grows, however, so does confusion about the rules, regulations,
and processes of doing business in northern Thailand. As a
result, post proposes the development of an investment toolkit
to assist potential U.S. investors in understanding how to do
business in the region. This project meets the following goal:
to increase U.S. investor awareness and confidence. Development
of the toolkit will occur from March through May with the launch
of the toolkit taking place by May 9. Post has recently hired
an unpaid Thai intern with web-design skills to work full-time
from March through May. The intern will be responsible for this
project, keeping the cost low. The cost is $600 for publication
of 1,000 print copies. Post plans to evaluate the success of the
toolkit through two methods: (1) tracking the number of visitors
on the website and (2) soliciting feedback on the website from
viewers on the value of the information provided.

20. Chiang Mai Project 3: "Participation in National Association
of International Educators (NAFSA) Conference." As the 15
northern provinces of Thailand strive to progress to a more
skills-based economy, the development of the education industry
will play a major role in this region. With dozens of public
and private universities in the region and student enrollment
from across Thailand and Asia, technology, study abroad, and
tertiary education will be key in the growth of human capital in
northern Thailand. Post requests BFIF support to send econLES
and econOff to Washington, DC from May 25-30 for the NAFSA trade
expo and conference. Estimated cost is appx. $6,000 (including

CHIANG MAI 00000011 004.2 OF 006


appx. $3,000 for round-trip airfare and appx. $3,000 for per
diem for two persons). Upon return to post from the conference,
econLES and econFSN will compose a guidebook for future econ
teams on the education industry in the U.S. including contacts
and business models.

21. Chiang Mai Project 4: "Participation in Commercial
Diplomacy Training in Bangkok." The push for decentralizing the
Thai economy out of Bangkok has led to an expansion of
manufacturing, tourism, services, trade, and investment across
northern Thailand. With this shift comes a greater need for
commercial promotion activities locally. Chiang Mai requests
funding of an estimated $1,400 ($400 for airfare and $1,000 for
per diem for two persons) to send one econLES and one econoff to
Bangkok for Commercial Diplomacy Training in March 2007. The
econ staff will apply the lessons learned from this training to
other proposed local and regional projects.

22. Total requested BFIF budget for Consulate General Chiang Mai
is $11,000. The point of contact is Kevin Rosier
(RosierKJ@state.gov).

--------------------------------
III. PROPOSED VIENTIANE PROJECTS
--------------------------------

23. Embassy Vientiane requests BFIF support to conduct the
following two post-specific activities:

24. Vientiane Project 1: "Participation in Commercial Diplomacy
Training in Bangkok." Embassy Vientiane requests funding to
attend the Commercial Diplomacy Training to be held in Bangkok
in March 2008. The Lao economy continues to grow at over seven
percent a year; increased training will assist us in better
serving and attracting future U.S. investment. Estimated cost
for econoff and commercial LES for two nights/three days is
approximately $1,500.

25. Vientiane Project 2: "Participation in American Water Works
Association (AWWA) National Conference and Expo." With over 70
dams planned for the Mekong and its tributaries within Laos,
getting hydropower and related water-focused activities correct
is crucial for future Lao development and environmental
sustainability. As economic growth continues, more and more Lao
cities and towns are also looking to develop municipal water
utilities. The potential for American business, if it becomes
aware of the opportunities, is considerable. Post requests BFIF
support to send econoff and commercial LES to Atlanta, Georgia
from June 8-12 to attend the AWWA conference and expo.
Estimated cost is approximately $6,500 (including approximately
$2,500 for round-trip airfare per person and approximately $750
for per diem per person.) Post will use the conference as an
opportunity both to inform participants about opportunities in
Laos and expand Post knowledge of water industry and specific
contacts to better support companies seeking to develop water
projects in Laos. Post will also explore the AWWA's "Water for
People" project and explore a public-private partnership to
expand its operations into Laos.

26. Total requested BFIF budget for Embassy Vientiane is $8,000.
The point of contact is Joshua Archibald (ArchibaldJC@state.gov).

--------------------------------
IV. PROPOSED PHNOM PENH PROJECTS
--------------------------------

27. With an average rate of growth of 8.4% from 1994 - 2006,
commercial opportunities in Cambodia are becoming increasingly
attractive. Despite no USCS staff, in addition to one econoff,
Embassy Phnom Penh hopes to have two LES staff working on
economic/commercial issues in 2008, and to facilitate greater
American participation in Cambodia's economic growth, Embassy
Phnom Penh requests BFIF funds to perform three post-specific
activities:

-- Commercial Training for econoff and two LES staff (see para
#28);

-- Develop U.S. Commercial Information Section within the
American Corners at local libraries (see para #29);

-- Host one day seminar for importers entitled "Made in America:
How to Identify the Best Products for the Local Market" (see
para #30);

28. Proposed Phnom Penh Project 1: "Participation in Commercial
Diplomacy Training in Bangkok." Embassy Phnom Penh requests
funding to attend the Commercial Diplomacy Training to be held
in Bangkok in March 2008. Post has limited experience dealing
with commercial issues. Increased training will assist us in

CHIANG MAI 00000011 005.2 OF 006


better serving and attracting future U.S. investment. Estimated
cost for econoff and two commercial LES for two nights/three
days is approximately $2,250.

29. Proposed Phnom Penh Project 2: "Development of U.S.
Commercial Information Section Within American Corners in Local
Libraries." Cambodia has three American corners situated in
local libraries in Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Kampong Cham.
Each American Corner features a diverse collection of English
language books and materials focusing on the United States. The
collections also offer poster exhibits, CDs, videotapes and
access to several electronic data-bases. The American Corners
host speakers, workshops and meetings, and also offers digital
video conferences (DVCs) with speakers from around the world.
The American Corners in Cambodia are among the most successful
in the region boasting 42,000 visitors last year. To promote
U.S. products and services, and to develop Cambodia's trade
capacity, post requests funds to create a shelf in each American
corner dedicated to U.S. commercial information as well as
information about American businesses, American business
leaders, entrepreneurial skills, and business educational
opportunities. In addition, post requests funds to host
bi-monthly contests about American businesses, in which the
winners of the contests will be eligible for business-related
prizes such as lunch with local American business leaders or
econoffs, American products, invitations to business-related
receptions, or tours of local American businesses. Post hopes
to acquire 1 wooden shelf and 100 business-related books for
each of the three American Corners by March 28, and begin
contests following an official launch of the American Corner
commercial section on March 31 in Phnom Penh, April 2 in
Battambang, and April 4 in Kampong Cham. The estimated combined
cost of business-related books, signage, promotional material,
furniture, prizes, and transportation for the opening ceremonies
is $7,000. Post will evaluate the success of the project by (1)
tracking the number of people that participate in the business
contests and (2) tracking the number of people that check out
business-related materials from the American Corner.

30. Proposed Phnom Penh Project 3: "Seminar for Cambodian
importers." Embassy Phnom Penh requests BFIF funds to host a
seminar done in collaboration with USCS Bangkok for Cambodian
importers entitled "Made in America: How to Identify the Best
Products for the Local Market." Cambodia's high levels of
economic growth is leading to the emergence of a new middle
class which has a strong affinity for American products. In
addition, emerging tourism, construction, agriculture, and other
industries provide opportunities for high-quality American
products. Currently, importers are generalists, importing
products in many different categories from different sources.
Through strong social networks, many products are imported from
Vietnam, China, and Thailand, however these products are of a
low quality when compared to American products. The purpose of
this seminar would be to provide strategies and motivation to
Cambodian importers to identify and import American products
that would be suitable for the Cambodian market. This event
would meet the goal of promoting U.S. products and services.
Planning period is July through August. Invitations will be
sent on August 18. Four advertisements will be placed in the
English-language newspapers beginning August 18. The workshop
will take place on September 3. The estimated combined cost is
$2,100 ($2,000 for hotel space, two coffee hours, and a lunch
for an estimated 40 participants; $100 for translator). Post
will evaluate the success of this event by three methods: (1)
the number of participants, (2) the results of an evaluation
completed at the end of the workshop, and (3) follow-ups with
selected participants on how skills acquired at the workshop
were applied in their businesses.

31. Total cost for proposed Phnom Penh BFIF projects is:
$11,350. The point of contact is LES Ruwan Hulugalle who can be
contacted at hulugaller@state.gov or (855) 23 728 137.

--------------------------------------------- ----
SUMMARY OF FUNDING REQUESTS AND POINTS OF CONTACT
--------------------------------------------- ----

32. Consulate General Chiang Mai
- Action Officer is Kevin Rosier (RosierKJ@state.gov).
- Requested Funding is $11,000.

33. Embassy Vientiane
- Action Officer is Joshua Archibald (ArchibaldJC@state.gov).
- Requested Funding is $8,000.

34. Embassy Phnom Penh
- Action Officer is Ruwan Hulugalle (HulugalleR@state.gov).
- Requested Funding is $11,350.

35. Regional Request is $28,873.

CHIANG MAI 00000011 006.2 OF 006

36. The proposal was coordinated by ConGen Chiang Mai, FCS
Bangkok, Embassy Vientiane, Embassy Phnom Penh, and ConGen
Chengdu.
MORROW

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