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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Expanded Economic Engagement

VZCZCXYZ0013
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0511 0391819
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081819Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1260
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8040
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9942
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 5895
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 1222
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6541
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000511

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

EEB FOR A/S SULLIVAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV EAID PGOV CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES EXPANDED ECONOMIC ENGAGEMENT
WITH GOC MINISTERS

REF: 07 BOGOTA 6957

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Ambassador hosted a breakfast on
February 4 for senior Colombian government economic
policymakers to discuss ideas for expanded bilateral economic
engagement to reinforce the benefits of the pending
U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA). The
Ambassador emphasized that the CTPA remains the U.S.
government's top economic priority for Colombia, but
highlighted numerous areas with potential for closer
bilateral cooperation. The meeting built off of EEB A/S
Sullivan's pledge to President Uribe in October 2006 to
broaden the U.S.-Colombian economic relationship. GOC
officials present reacted positively to the initiative and
offered specific ideas for small business, biofuels, and
science and technology collaboration. Presidential Economic
Advisor Cecilia Alvarez and Minister of Trade Luis Guillermo
Plata agreed to coordinate follow-up with post to prioritize
ideas, elaborate detailed proposals, and discuss rollout
mechanisms. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) The Ambassador presented the initiative to Plata,
Minister of Finance Oscar Zuluaga, Vice Minister of
Agriculture Juan Salazar Rueda, Director of National Planning
(DNP) Carolina Renteria, Presidential Economic Advisor
Cecilia Alvarez, and Foreign Ministry North America Director
Patricia Cortes. In doing so, the Ambassador reiterated our
intention to find ways to broaden bilateral economic
cooperation across new sectors in order to multiply the
benefits of the CTPA once approved and implemented. He
emphasized that the new areas of economic engagement would
not function as a substitute, but rather a complement, for
the CTPA.

3. (SBU) Pointing to EEB A/S Sullivan's commitment to
President Uribe in October 2006 to seek out areas for
increased bilateral economic cooperation, the Ambassador
outlined possible initiatives in the areas of housing
finance, facilitating credit for small and medium
enterprises, technical assistance on tax collection, a cargo
open skies agreement, a regular dialogue on
telecommunications, assistance on processes for environmental
certifications for biofuels, customs facilitation, concluding
agreements on science and technology cooperation, sharing
best practices on small business development, and technical
assistance on developing science-based biotechnology
standards. The Ambassador noted that several USG agencies,
including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
(reftel) and EX-IM Bank had recently visited Colombia and
expressed interest in increasing their activities within
Colombia.

4.(SBU) The GOC representatives all welcomed the initiative
and agreed on the need to quickly prioritize and elaborate
ideas for further consideration. In particular, they cited
strong interest in small business development, biofuels, and
science and technology. Plata suggested also examining
cooperation on competitiveness issues, while Zuluaga stated
that Colombia could benefit from technical expertise in
infrastructure planning and development. Renteria proposed
that technical staff look at prospects for cooperation on
income generation in the context of reinforcing the economic
development goals of Plan Colombia as well as transitioning
to reduced levels of USG support for Plan Colombia programs
and policies.

5. (SBU) Alvarez and Plata agreed to coordinate GOC
follow-up, including designating technical staff to work with
post's Economic Section on developing a prioritized list of
detailed proposals for further consideration. The Ambassador
encouraged the GOC to move quickly in order to maintain
momentum and to consider how the GOC would like to eventually
rollout a broadened bilateral economic agenda with the U.S.
The ministers committed to establishing a working mechanism
by the end of February.

6. (U) Prior to the meeting, post sent an outline of the
ideas for discussion to EEB and WHA. Post will continue to
keep the Department informed as more detailed discussions of
potential cooperation areas proceed.
Brownfield

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