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Cablegate: Exbs: Thailand/Vietnam Advisor Monthly Reporting

VZCZCXRO8741
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBK #0864/01 0790301
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190301Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2314
RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHDC
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUCNEXC/EXPORT CONTROL AND RELATED BORDER SECURITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000864

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR ISN/ECC YWONG, ACHURCH, KCROUCH, ROWEN, EAP/MLS
DRICHELSOPH, BBLACKSHAW
CBP/INA FOR RWATT
DEPT OF ENERGY FOR NNSA TPERRY
AMEMBASSY HANOI FOR PECKSTROM
AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR FOR RMOODY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC MNUC PARM PREL KSTC KNNP TH VN
SUBJECT: EXBS: THAILAND/VIETNAM ADVISOR MONTHLY REPORTING
CABLE - FEBRUARY 2008

SUMMARY

1. (U) Advisor participated in a foreign embassy drug
enforcement community trip to the northernmost land and river
border crossing sites from Thailand into Burma and Laos, Feb.
11-13. Advisor visited Danang port and Lao Bao border
crossing in central Vietnam, Feb. 28-29. The Washington
State National Guard conducted port security training at Laem
Chabang port, Feb. 4-8. In March, CBP will conduct an ISIT
in Vietnam and ICE will conduct export control enforcement
training in Thailand.

SITE ASSESSMENTS AND MEETINGS

2. (SBU) Advisor traveled to Chiang Rai province, Feb 11-13,
to view the northernmost land and river crossings into Burma
and Laos. The trip was conducted by the Royal Thai
Government's (RTG) Office of the Narcotics Control Board
(ONCB) for the Foreign Anti-Narcotic Community of Thailand
(FANC). Approximately forty foreign law enforcement attaches
participated. Part of the Golden Triangle, the area was
infamous in earlier times for its role in the international
opium trade. Government-sponsored alternative livelihood
programs have since eradicated most of the opium production
in Thailand, but narcotics are still smuggled in from across
the border in Burma and Laos (mostly methamphetamine tablets
produced in Burma). The area is also the entry point for
goods from Yunnan province in China. Advisor visited the
land border crossing at Mae Sai and the Mekong River port
facility at Chiang Saen. Trade flows are currently modest,
but RTG offibials expect an increase in the future. To meet
this demand, a new vehicle inspection facility is being
constructed at Mae Sai, which includes a mobile x-ray van.
The new port facility at Chaeng Saen handled 176 thousand
tons of cargo in 2007 (mostly agricultural products, with
little inspection).

3. (SBU) In Vietnam, Advisor and embassy Political Officer
visited Danang port and the Lao Bao border crossing, Feb.
28-29. Danang port is significantly smaller than Haiphong or
Ho Chi Minh City. In 2007, it handled approximately one
million tons of cargo and 27 thousand TEUs of containers.
Investment is increasing in central Vietnam, however.
Officials expect a corresponding increase in trade, and are
planning on expanding the port accordingly. Cargo is mostly
agricultural products, oil, equipment and raw materials.
Customs officials said they had had some drug smuggling
cases, but no weapons. Trade fraud, especially for tax
avoidance, is one of their biggest challenges. Their main
concern is to not restrict the flow of trade; they seldom
open containers and don't have any scanning machines.
Requested assistance includes container scanning machines and
equipment for detecting radiation, explosives and drugs.

4. (U) The Lao Bao border crossing is on the main east-west
highway connecting Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The road is
in good condition, and new vehicle inspection facilities and
a free trade zone area are under construction. In 2006, the
crossing station processed 53 thousand vehicles, 187 thousand
passengers, and 127 million USD worth of cargo. In 2007,
those totals increased to 55 thousand vehicles, 273 thousand
passengers, and 143 million USD in cargo. Cargo consists
mostly of manufactured items and commodities. The Lao Bao
facility is one of the pilot project sites for the Single
Step Inspection (SSI) process, an initiative of the Greater
Mekong Subregion countries to help facilitate trade. Joint
teams of Lao and Vietnamese officials conduct inspections at
a single site, rather than having cargo and passengers
undergo two separate inspections on each side of the border.
Border officials expect the practice will be adopted at other
crossing points. Officials said that contraband was not a
big problem at this site.

TRAINING CONDUCTED

BANGKOK 00000864 002 OF 002

5. (U) Advisor joined ICE Attache in providing opening
remarks at a port security seminar at Laem Chabang port,
February 4-8. The training was conducted by members of the
Washington State National Guard through the US National
Guard's State Partnership Program (SPP). The topic of the
training was emergency response, focusing on hazardous
materials, explosive devices and command and control.
National guard trainers possess expertise in these topics
from their civilian careers. This training complements EXBS
assistance and DHS/DOE programs by enhancing overall security
and interagency and bilateral cooperation at Thailand's
largest port.

EQUIPMENT DELIVERED

6. (U) None.

IMMINENT TRAINING/EQUIPMENT UPDATE

7. (U) US Customs and Border Protection will conduct an
International Seaport Interdiction Training (ISIT) course in
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, March 3-7. US Immigration and
Customs Enforcement will conduct export control enforcement
training in Bangkok, Thailand, March 10-14.

SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS

8. (U) None.
JOHN

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