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Cablegate: Ambassador Meets Agriculture Adviser

VZCZCXRO9725
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0643 1671037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151037Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6920
INFO RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0702
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2228
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8499
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9735
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8469
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0483
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1346

UNCLAS DHAKA 000643

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/PB
USDA PASS FAS for OCRA/Riker/Carver, OCBD/Kreamer
NEW DELHI FOR FAS
BANGKOK FOR USAID
ROME FOR FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ETRD ECON EFIN PGOV PREL BG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS AGRICULTURE ADVISER

SUMMARY
---------

1. (SBU) On May 29, 2008, Ambassador Moriarty and Dr. C.S. Karim,
Adviser for the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture discussed
priorities for the reconstruction of the cyclone-affected area and
the problem of child labor at commercial processing facilities.
Advisor Karim also expressed an interest in helping ensure that U.S.
cotton and wheat exporters were not disadvantaged by non-tariff
barriers.

U.S. WHEAT AND COTTON EXPORTS
----------------------------------
2. (SBU) Ambassador Moriarty expressed concern that, while U.S.
wheat was of excellent quality, U.S. wheat exporters were presently
disadvantaged by the terms included in Bangladeshi wheat contract
tenders. In reply, Adviser Karim suggested that the Ambassador
write a letter detailing the USG's specific concerns on this
subject. Adviser Karim mentioned that a special exception had been
granted to Canada for the importation of pulses and that "tender
rules are made by men hence can be changed to ensure greater
transparency and accountability of processes."

3. (SBU) On the subject of relaxing fumigation requirements upon
entry in Bangladesh for U.S. cotton, Adviser Karim indicated that
the Government of Bangladesh was abiding by Food and Agriculture
Organization rules related to fumigation. Adviser Karim
acknowledged that Bangladesh was interested in reducing non-tariff
barriers and wanted to cut cost and time of imports. Adviser Karim
suggested Bangladeshi and USG experts meet to find an alternative
solution. He believed that a practical solution to counter this
problem should be possible.

AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND LABOR
---------------------------------------
4. (SBU) With the added stress related to climate change, Adviser
Karim noted Bangladesh needed to adopt more stress-tolerant,
early-maturing and disease-resistant crop varieties. While the Boro
rice crop was going to be a bumper crop with 18.5 million metric
tons production expected, agricultural inputs and access remained
important issues. He added that middle-men were extracting much of
the price differential.

5. (SBU) Adviser Karim emphasized that child labor needed to be
eliminated at the industry level and agreed to talk to his colleague
in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Fisheries about the
child labor problem. He acknowledged the regulatory regime in
Bangladesh was not strong and should be strengthened.

6. (U) Priorities for further support to the cyclone-affected area
include replacement of draft animals and cows, power tillers and
harvesting machines, according to Adviser Karim. He also raised the
need to refurbish physical infrastructure, including buildings used
as cyclone shelters in the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest
in the world, as well as livelihood activities.

COMMENT
----------------
7. (SBU) Adviser Karim said he was personally grateful for the USG's
exceptional responsiveness in helping Bangladesh address such key
concerns as avian influenza, funding for urea fertilizer deep
placement technology, and assistance in the reconstruction of
cyclone-affected areas. He also registered his interest in
continuing to work on the U.S.-Bangladesh Science and Technology
Cooperation agreement. Turning to politics, he said he was
anxious to pass on the reins of his Ministry to an elected
government, underscoring the fact that he and other Advisors did not
want to stay one day longer than needed in their positions.

Moriarty

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