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Cablegate: Pm Taps Trade Ministry to Take Over Main Tifa Duties

VZCZCXRO6742
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0156 0440958
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130958Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7155
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4279
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS HANOI 000156

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USTR FOR BISBEE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON ECIN EINV PGOV VM
SUBJECT: PM TAPS TRADE MINISTRY TO TAKE OVER MAIN TIFA DUTIES

1. (U) This cable is Sensitive But Unclassified. For official use
only, not for dissemination outside USG channels or posting on the
internet.

2. (SBU) Summary: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has instructed the
Trade and Industry Minister to take over the lead of the U.S. -
Vietnam Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), replacing
the Office of the Government in chairing Vietnam's inter-agency
group that deals with the agreement. End summary.

TRADE MINISTRY TO TAKE OVER TIFA
--------------------------------

3. (SBU) The Government of Vietnam (GVN) confirmed by diplomatic
note dated February 1 that MOIT would chair the "Vietnam - U.S.
Inter-Government Cooperative Council," the GVN interagency working
group in charge of TIFA implementation. The decision had been in
the news and our contacts had mentioned this casually to us prior to
the official notification. Up until then, the OOG --akin to the
Prime Minister's Chief of Staff-- had chaired Vietnam's TIFA
interagency group. OOG Chairman Nguyen Xuan Phuc led the GVN
delegation at the first TIFA Council ministerial in United States in
December, 2007.

4. (U) BEGIN TEXT of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unofficial
translation of the diplomatic note:

"Regarding to the expansion of bilateral cooperation under Vietnam -
U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), the Prime
Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam decides to appoint Mr.
Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Industry and Trade, replacing Mr. Nguyen
Xuan Phuc, Minister/Chairman of the Office of the Government, to be
the Chairman of the Vietnamese side in Vietnam - U.S.
Inter-Government Cooperative Council."

END TEXT

MOIT AND OOG MINIMIZE THE IMPORTANCE
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) An officer from the Americas Department of the Trade
Ministry said that the Prime Minister "had always meant to have MOIT
take the lead," and that the OOG had stepped in as caretaker while
the MOIT reorganized itself after the merger of the ministries of
Industry and of Trade in August 2007. Our OOG and MOIT contacts
both noted that the OOG would continue to play an active role. In
particular, Nguyen Hong Duong, Deputy Director of the Americas
Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade indicated that
OOG's Bui Huy Hung will still coordinate TIFA issues with USTR at
the working level.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) The text of the TIFA signed in June 2007 itself refers to
the Minister of Trade as the lead on the Vietnamese side. We expect
the MOIT to be just as cooperative as the OOG was during its
five-month tenure at the chair.

MICHALAK

2

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