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Cablegate: Bfif Fy08 Proposals for Sri Lanka and Maldives

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0039/01 0100551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100551Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7465
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1702
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 8215

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000039

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EB/CBA FOR DENNIS WINSTEAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP ETRD KIPR CE MV
SUBJECT: BFIF FY08 PROPOSALS FOR SRI LANKA AND MALDIVES

REF: (A) STATE 159597
(B) 07 COLOMBO 1403
(C) 07 COLOMBO 1627

1. Post expresses its appreciation for continued BFIF support of
commercial activities in Sri Lanka and Maldives. Post has witnessed
considerable success from BFIF support for the "American Pavilion"
at the annual Maldives trade show (ref B); the Ambassador and post's
Econ/Commercial Section strongly encourage the Department to fund
this request again in 2008. Following are post's two requests for
2008 BFIF funding.

2. Primary Request: MALDIVES: American Trade Pavilion:

(a) Justification: The American Pavilion at the Maldives Hotel and
Trade Expo is a key contributor to expanding U.S. commercial
interests in the Maldives. The Pavilion has recorded significant
growth since its inception in 1999 with noteworthy results achieved
by U.S. companies participating in this event. The show, which
initially began as a catalog display, has developed into a
full-fledged American Pavilion at the largest annual trade show in
the Maldives. The American Pavilion is a major attraction at the
trade show, garnering high levels of interest by government
ministers and business visitors due to the diversity of products,
technologies, and services displayed by U.S. companies, agents, and
institutions. Prominent U.S. corporations such as GE Energy, GE
Infrastructure & Appliances, Southwest Windpower, Bell, and Cessna
were among the U.S. exhibitors in 2007.

As reported in ref B, the 2007 trade fair generated useful leads to
participant companies, especially in the following categories:
energy; food and beverage; commercial interiors; and finished
textiles (canopies, cushions, sunshades). Additional opportunities
have also been realized. For example, an interior design company
carrying U.S. products established an office in Male' to handle its
increased business following the show, and an IT provider plans to
organize a product launch due to the positive response received at
the show. U.S. eggs and fruits, which are exported to Maldives as a
result of previous shows, continue to expand their market share as
the exporter reaches further contacts through regular participation
in the American Pavilion. Maldivian government officials also
showed strong interest in Lockheed Martin's multi-million dollar
vessel tracking system. Representatives of Lockheed Martin made a
follow-up visit to the Maldives in November to continue discussions
in this respect. Finally, a renewable energy company that was
introduced to the Maldives through previous participation in the
American Pavilion raised government interest in expanding its wind
power projects to Maldives. (Note: This company officially
inaugurated its already-operating pilot wind power project on
January 7; both President Gayoom and the Ambassador participated in
the event, which we will report septel.)

Post considers the Maldives trade fair an important element of its
economic and commercial outreach portfolio in Maldives, where the
USG currently had no permanent representation. The Ambassador's
active participation at the trade fair in 2007 demonstrates the
importance of this event to post's overall economic strategy with
Maldives. The Ambassador's participation continues to be noted and
appreciated by Maldivian government and business representatives,
many of whom the Ambassador personally escorted through the
Pavilion. The Ambassador also hosted a well-attended reception at
the trade show; guests included numerous cabinet ministers,
officials of government agencies, and private sector contacts.

Maldives presents opportunities for U.S. firms for a diverse range
of products and technologies, with renewable energy, environment,
information technology, communications, electronics, construction
products, services, and food and beverage being particularly viable.
The tourism industry continues to fuel significant demand for
imports. The lack of domestic agricultural production generates
heavy demand for food and beverages. The planned construction of
approximately 40 new resorts is an opportunity to further expand
U.S. exports. Although the Maldives is a comparatively small
market, there is wide acceptance of superior quality and hi-tech
products among consumers and resort managers. The expansion of the
existing international airport island near the capital to include
new hotel, conference facilities, and other infrastructure brings
new prospects for U.S. companies in technology, products, and
services.

(b) Planning Milestones: The exhibition organizers have not yet
finalized the dates of the 2008 show, but we expect it to be set for
August or September. The show will be held in the main conference
center in the capital, Male'. Promotional strategy, logistics and
related issues will be coordinated with exhibitors, the Maldives
Chamber of Commerce, GSO, PD and the exhibition organizer.

(c) Estimated Costs: $15,000

(d) Post point of contact: Kami Witmer, Economic Officer; Adrian
Mendis, Commercial Specialist. Tel: 94-11-2498500, Fax:
94-11-2437345, Email: witmerka@state.gov, mendisa@state.gov

(e) Post will solicit funds from other USG agencies such as FAS, FCS
and Department divisions like PD and regional office of Science &
Technology to fund components of the trade show related to those
respective agencies

(f) Outcome/Success Criteria:
- Expansion of current exports to Maldives and increased visibility
of U.S. products and technology.
- Forming partnerships and sales contracts between exhibitors and
Maldivian firms.
- Reinforce the "Made in the USA" brand in all sectors with emphasis
on food and beverage, technology and equipment for infrastructure
projects.
- Increase in commercial inquiries from Maldivian businesses.
- Identify opportunities and initiate a significant U.S.
infrastructure project.
- No of visitors attending the show
- No of contracts and sales achieved by exhibitors

(g) Follow-up strategy: Post will assist and coordinate with
exhibitors to conclude contracts and sales. Close follow up on
previous shows have helped establish strong relationships between US
pavilion exhibitors and Maldivian businesses.

3. Secondary Request: SRI LANKA: American Chamber of Commerce
(AmCham) IPR Awareness Campaign

(a) Justification: Although Sri Lanka has acceptable intellectual
property rights (IPR) legislation, public awareness (including that
of government officials) of IPR is low. Pirated goods are common,
and consumers are often unaware of the dangers of buying fake auto
parts, medicines, and computer software, among other items. The
American Chamber has embarked on an outstanding IPR awareness
campaign aiming to raise citizens' knowledge of the concerns
surrounding IPR violations. Having completed the first two phases
of the project -- very well-received print and radio ads -- AmCham
is preparing to enter the television market for the third phase. To
date the program has been entirely supported by donations from
AmCham member companies and non-member U.S. companies with ties to
Sri Lanka. (Note: AmCham Sri Lanka is comprised primarily of Sri
Lankan companies with commercial ties to the U.S.; the number of
American companies -- defined as those with over 50% U.S. equity --
is low.) The campaign has also received wide-ranging support from
the Sri Lankan National IPR office, industry, and other Chambers.

(b) Planning Milestones: The TV campaign, if current proposed
funding is realized, is scheduled to run for three months on a
popular local television station and will air in all three local
languages (Sinhala, Tamil, and English). Based on the popularity of
the print and radio ads, AmCham would like to increase the amount of
time that the ads run on television. AmCham has approached the
government to enquire about using state television (at low or no
cost) to further publicize the anti-IPR message. They also hope to
tie the ad campaign into further training for local officials,
following on a magistrates' training that was completed in 2007. If
proposed funding is not realized, BFIF funding would ensure that the
TV campaign is aired. If separate funding is realized, BFIF
funding for this campaign would allow the campaign to run its
preferred time frame of six months.

(c) Estimated Cost: $6000

(d) Post point of contact: Kami Witmer, Economic Officer; Adrian
Mendis, Commercial Specialist. Tel: 94-11-2498500, Fax:
94-11-2437345, Email: witmerka@state.gov, mendisa@state.gov

(e) Anticipated Outcomes: Although the outcome of a campaign such
as this is difficult to quantify, the following measures would help
to evaluate the programs effectiveness:

- Increased general awareness by the public of intellectual property
rights. This would be measured by on-the-spot interviews of local
citizens, feedback from member companies, numbers of inquiries and
registered complaints to local authorities, and numbers of court
actions.

- Increased cooperation by government officials (outside the
National IP Office) in addressing IPR violations and concerns in
country.

(f) Follow-on Strategy: AmCham will continue to solicit funds and
in-kind donations from other sources (member companies, the European
Chamber, the Government of Sri Lanka, other chambers, and
international industry associations) to fund additional portions of
this campaign and to develop and provide follow-on IPR-awareness

activities, including training sessions for government officials and
the business community.

BLAKE

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