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Cablegate: International Rubber Study Group Executive Committee

VZCZCXRO8215
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLO #0470/01 0451400
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141400Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7429
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAB/AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN PRIORITY 0143
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY 0571
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 0274
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 2645
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 0150
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR PRIORITY 0173
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0727
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 3143
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 3624
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 0256
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1113
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 0124
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 0554

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 000470

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD UK AGR EIND
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL RUBBER STUDY GROUP EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
MEETING

REF: A) CHO-SHEETS EMAIL DATED 02/11/08, B)CHO-SHEETS EMAILS DATED

02/12/08 C) STATE 10729

1. (SBU) Summary. Per Department of Commerce's request, Embassy
London Econoff represented the USG during the Executive Committee
meeting of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) on February
12 - 13. U.S. concerns with the contract extension for the Secretary
General (SG) found little traction with other delegations. Based on
discussions at the meeting, the IRSG seems ill prepared for the
planned relocation to Singapore. The IRSG will distribute committee
meeting minutes to all members, but this cable serves as a report on
the committee's responses to U.S. comments. End summary

Staff Issues
------------

2. (SBU) The selection panel chose Gerard Stapleton as the Head of
Economics and Statistics. In response to questions raised by the
U.S. delegation (ref A), the SG replied that Heads of Delegation
(HOD) approved the make-up of the selection panel and that the
selection panel decided the criteria for candidate selection. The
U.S. abstained from the vote to approve Stapleton's selection,
because of its concerns with the selection process outline in ref A.
The Chair and SG said that Singapore IE and the staffing firm
engaged by the IRSG will form the selection panel for the
recruitment of administrative staff.

3. (SBU) The U.S. delegation expressed its opposition to the
one-year extension of the SG's contract using talking points
provided (Ref A). No other delegation opposed extending the
contract. The Indian delegation supported the extension, because it
blames the executive committee and member states for the poor
quality of statistics produced by the IRSG and said that high costs
are preventing new countries from joining the group. The European
Community (EC) characterized some of the SG's decisions as unwise,
but said that the relocation of the IRSG offices to Singapore was
making conditions difficult for the SG. The EC wants to renew the
SG's contract in order to provide continuity for the IRSG after the
relocation to Singapore. The Thai delegation supported the
extension, but suggested that conditions could be placed on further
extensions. Japan requested that the U.S. provide further details on
its reasons for opposing the extension before the HOD meeting in
March.

4. (SBU) The Chairperson accused the U.S. of "micromanagement" when
it requested the original offers of employment provided to existing
staff per ref A and attempted to steer the committee away from
discussing the issue. Later, the SG pulled the U.S. delegate aside
to say that he believed the U.S.'s facts are wrong on the 1997
promotion of former employee Val Gardiner. During the meeting, no
other delegation commented, but later both Japan and Sri Lanka
expressed their concern to us privately that the Chairperson and SG
were unwilling to provide this information. The Chairperson
requested that the U.S. contact the SG directly with this request.
The SG said Mr. Dock No is currently training new IRSG staff.

5. (SBU) The SG claimed that all payments to the former head of
economics and statistics were in accordance with IRSG rules. He said
that at the time, the head of economics and statistics was
performing the jobs of two individuals and therefore received two
separate payments for these two jobs. The SG claims that no overtime
payments were made.

IRSG Secretariat Activities
---------------------------

6. (SBU) The SG stated he has only made one official trip overseas
since June 2007 and is attempting to limit travel. He said the
single trip he made was a combined one to China for the purpose of
seeking its membership in the IRSG and to Cambodia for the purpose
of data gathering.

7. (SBU) The Chairperson stated that the ANRPC did have proper
approval from the HOD and that the only concern was with the
attendance of a single individual. She went on to say that although

LONDON 00000470 002 OF 003


the U.S. raised concerns in the meeting, the consensus was to go
forward with the projects as planned. She promised to provide
evidence of this in the minutes from the HOD meeting.

Ownership of the long-term model
--------------------------------

8. (SBU)In response to the U.S. delegation's statement that
ownership of the long-term rubber forecast model must determined by
a more formal legal document (Ref A), the Chairperson requested to
know specifically what document the U.S. would like. The U.S.
delegation proposed to provide a draft legal document for approval
by HOD (Ref B). The committee approved this proposal.

9. (SBU) The Chairperson said that she will ask the IAP to form a
task force to review the long-term model. She said the IAP has not
met since the last executive committee meeting and has therefore not
yet set up this task force.

Payment to Dr. Kees Burger
--------------------------

10. (SBU) The Japanese delegation raised this issue first. The SG
apologized and said he should have consulted with the executive
committee before authorizing this payment.

Panel of Associates
-------------------

11. (SBU) Delegates raised eyebrows when the U.S. delegation asked,
per ref A, the SG to provide a list of current Panel of Associates
(POA) members and the dues they pay. Prior to the meeting, IRSG
staff informed us that the SG was allowing his colleague, Dr. Kees
Burger, from Wageningen University to be a POA member free of
charge. The SG provided this list on February 13, but the list he
provided did not include Wageningen University. According to an
email from IRSG staff, the SG requested that Wageningen University
be removed from the list immediately prior to the list being handed
to members. IRSG staff provided us with an electronic copy of the
list of POA members prior to the SG's alterations.

12. (SBU) Unaware that one POA had been removed from the list; the
committee discussed the fees for companies from member and
non-member countries. The SG said that there had been some
bookkeeping errors which had allowed some companies from non-member
states to only pay 1000 GBP instead of the 2000 GBP fee. In
addition, he was charging Chinese companies only 1000 GBP as in
incentive for China to join the IRSG. The committee decided that
companies from non-member countries should all pay the 1000 GBP fee
and those from member countries should pay 2000 GBP. In addition,
the question arose as to whether or not companies based in the EU,
but not from member states should pay 1000 GBP or 2000 GBP. The EU
argued that, because the companies are based in the EU they legally
fall under the representation of the EU and should only pay the 1000
GBP fee. The U.S. suggested that this issue be discussed further,
because with nations such as the Netherlands and the UK recently
withdrawing from the group, it is not fair to charge their companies
less than those of other non-members. After the meeting the
delegations from Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire both told the U.S.
delegation that they do not think it is fair for companies based in
the EU, but non-member states to only have to pay the 1000 GBP fee.
In addition Cote d'Ivoire raised the point that the EU delegation
only pays the basic IRSG membership, which is not based on
production or consumption numbers. Therefore Cote D'Ivoire suggested
that if EU intends to represent its member states which do not
belong to the IRSG, it should pay the full membership fee based on
its rubber production and consumption.

Mission Statement
-----------------

13. (SBU) The Chair requested that the U.S. delegation provide its
"vision statement" for the future of the IRSG. The EU provided a
draft mission statement for the IRSG, which the Chair says was
requested from all delegations at the previous meeting. The deadline

LONDON 00000470 003 OF 003


for submission of mission statements from other delegations is
February 19, 2008. After that date, the SG will draft a proposed
mission statement for approval at the HOD based on the suggestions
it has received.

HQ Agreement with Singapore
---------------------------

14.(SBU)The Singaporean delegation announced that all was going as
planned regarding the 90 square meter space that was being provided
by the Singaporean government. However, the adjacent space that the
IRSG plans to lease may not be available by the planned relocation
date. The Chair requested that Singapore IE provide an update on the
relocation to her by the end of the following week. She will
distribute this update to all member states.

Constitution
------------

15. (SBU) The committee went through the existing IRSG constitution
line by line during the meeting with suggestions to update it. The
EU delegation favors a comprehensive review and revision of the
constitution. A copy of the constitution with delegates' suggestions
for changes will be distributed to IRSG members for discussion at
the HOD meeting. Other delegations responded favorably to U.S.
proposals strengthening language on data security and altering the
frequency of meetings (ref A).

Relocation Issues
-----------------

16. (SBU) The SG reported that the new estate agent has located a
prospective buyer for the current leased property and is very
optimistic that it will receive an offer soon. In response to the
U.S. delegations questions in ref A, the SG answered that it is open
to all suggestions and options regarding the current IRSG property.


Financial Audit
---------------

17. (SBU) The SG and Chair both responded to the U.S. delegation's
request in ref A for a written financial report from the SG with
dismay. They claimed to have never heard of such a report. The Cote
d'Ivoire delegation reminded the Chair that the International Coffee
Organization also has such a report. The SG requested more
information on what would be included in such a report. Other U.S.
talking points were discussed under the budget.

Draft Recommended Budget
------------------------

18. (SBU) The SG provided a draft budget to the delegates which
differed from the one distributed prior to the meeting. In addition,
the Chair made substantial revisions. Per the U.S. delegation's
request, the Chair will provide a copy of the revised draft to the
delegations for review in capitols per ref A. The SG suggested using
the IRSG's large cash reserves to offset the relocation costs. This
proposal will also be included in the revised draft.

TUTTLE

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