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Cablegate: Paris Club: June 2008 Session, Private Sector Meeting,

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RR RUEHBZ RUEHGI RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #1201/01 1771510
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251510Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3539
INFO RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0249

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 14 PARIS 001201


SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/IFD/OMA
TREASURY FOR DO/IDD AND OUSED/IMF
SECDEF FOR USDP/DSCA
PASS EXIM FOR CLAIMS - MPAREDES
PASS USDA FOR CCC -- ALEUNG/WWILLER/JDOSTER PASS USAID FOR CLAIMS --
WFULLER
PASS DOD FOR DSCS -- PBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ECON EAID XM XA XH XB XF FR
SUBJECT: PARIS CLUB: June 2008 Session, Private Sector Meeting,
and Negotiation with Togo

1. Summary: At the Paris Club's June 10-12 session, the tour
d'horizon addressed Burundi, Central African Republic, Grenada,
Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Sudan and Togo. Germany requested an informal
update on Argentina; Russia sought resolution of its promissory note
issue. As for methodological issues, the U.S. discussed "Jubilee
legislation"; Belgium described new legislation, aimed at vulture
funds, that prevents seizure of international assistance funds; and
creditors agreed that the Secretariat would revise its working paper
on possible Paris Club debt treatments for fragile states once the
IMF and IBRD clarify their approaches. The June 11 meeting with the
private sector and some non-Paris Club emerging creditors produced
ideas for two possible working groups: one involving Paris Club and
non-Paris Club creditors to address comparability of treatment and
other issues; and the second involving Paris Club and private sector
representatives to discuss so-called vulture funds.

2. In the June 12 negotiation with Togo, creditors provided a
generous treatment covering $735 million in principal and interest
payments falling due during Togo's Poverty Reduction and Growth
Facility (PRGF) program, including immediate cancellation of $347
million. The U.S. did not sign the Paris Club Agreed Minutes, but
provided a side letter stating our intention to treat the debt once
Togo reaches HIPC decision point. End summary.

---------
Argentina
---------

3. Germany requested an informal exchange over lunch. The
Secretariat recalled Chairman Musca's contacts with then-Financial
Secretary Secondini in March, prior to Economy Minister Lousteau's
resignation. At that time, the GOA said it wanted to address the
Paris Club issue by the end of 2008. Since then, the Secretariat
had only had informal contacts with the new team. The Secretariat
noted Argentina's economic situation, and Italy commented on
President Fernandez de Kirchner's stance at the June 5 Rome Food

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Security Summit, where she criticized the IMF and blamed the World
Bank for Haiti's difficulties. The Secretariat stated its clear
message that, without an IMF program, the GOA could suggest a
repayment plan, but a formal rescheduling would not be possible.
Creditors agreed to monitor the economic situation; maintain a
coordinated message in awaiting a GOA approach; and avoid mingling
Paris Club and holdout bondholder issues. The IMF is preparing for
Article IV discussions (date to be determined), and the Secretariat
mentioned that a possible end-July Development Committee Deputies
meeting in Mexico and August 30-31 G-20 Deputies meeting in Rio de
Janeiro offered opportunities for further contacts.

-------
Burundi
-------

4. The IMF reported that its Executive Board will discuss a
successor Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program in
early July; Burundi could reach HIPC completion point at the time of
its first PRGF review in late 2008/early 2009. The World Bank
stressed that real reforms are required to reverse declines in the
coffee export sector, which accounts for 85 percent of export
revenues.

5. Creditors agreed in principle on an approach for resuming
interim HIPC relief for Burundi once a new PRGF program is in place.
Assuming the Executive Board approves the PRGF on July 7, creditors
will retroactively extend the consolidation period of the March 2004
Paris Club agreement to cover the gap between the two programs. As
summarized in a draft Chairman's Summary, creditors that are legally
required to bill for amounts falling due during the gap period may
do so, provided they re-credit any amounts paid beyond what is due
after the application of Cologne terms. Creditors without such
legal constraints will either not bill, or inform the debtor of
amounts due but not demand payment. Germany and Italy stressed
that, while the Paris Club's approach for Burundi does set a

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precedent, creditors should determine on a case-by-case basis how
debtor countries in similar situations will be handled in the
future. (Background: Burundi is a test case for the Paris Club's
methodology, as agreed in a March 12, 2008 working paper, on interim
relief for HIPC countries whose previous PRGF program went off track
or expired. Burundi reached decision point in July 2005, but
interim relief ended after the PRGF arrangement expired in January
2008. The U.S. is not a creditor.)

------------------------------
Central African Republic (CAR)
------------------------------

6. The IMF previewed CAR's second PRGF program review, which the
IMF Executive Board approved on June 18. The completed review will
enable creditors to enter into force the second phase of CAR's
December 2007 Agreed Minutes, thereby extending the period of
interim HIPC relief to cover maturities falling due between December
1, 2007, and November 30, 2008. The IMF reported that CAR had
contacted all its non-Paris Club creditors. Kuwait, Libya, and
France's Banque Postale had indicated intentions to participate in
HIPC debt relief. The World Bank reported that, given rising food
prices, CAR sought assistance for the agricultural sector and social
safety nets, in particular. The Bank endorsed a new Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper on May 27; CAR should meet HIPC completion
point triggers by the end of 2008. Asked about litigating
creditors, the IMF awaits replies to its survey, sent to commercial
creditors, as part of information gathering for its upcoming HIPC
and MDRI report.

7. The Secretariat discussed how the Paris Club could help CAR
secure comparable treatment from non-Paris Club creditors. Mali,
Niger, Congo and some private creditors had begun contacts with CAR.
The Secretariat offered to send letters to official and commercial
creditors that have not responded to CAR's initial outreach to
encourage them to start negotiations. These creditors include Iraq,

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Taiwan, Serbia, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, Cameroon, Senegal, Chad,
France Telecom, Hopitaux de Paris, Credit Lyonnais, and First
Curacao. The Secretariat decided that sending letters to Argentina
and China would not be constructive. Noting Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia's proposed bilateral agreements did not provide comparable
treatment, the Secretariat also offered to analyze debt
restructuring offers and to help CAR formulate counteroffers. The
Secretariat would lend support to CAR representatives when they
visit Paris for negotiations with creditors in mid-June.

-------
Grenada
-------

8. Creditors postponed a decision on whether to enter into force
the second phase of Grenada's May 2006 rescheduling, pending the
Secretariat's preparation of a working paper with options for
discussion at the July meeting. The second phase, which covers
maturities falling due in 2007, is conditioned on completion of the
"review of the second year" of Grenada's PRGF. The IMF said
completion of the first review of the program has been delayed due
to fiscal slippage in 2007 and slow progress implementing reforms,
but that performance in 2008 has been more encouraging. Grenada had
an end-2007 debt/GDP ratio of 112 percent; it is considering a China
Exim loan for a port/marina project that could undermine its debt
sustainability. The World Bank reported that since a 2005 Hurricane
Ivan-related emergency loan, Grenada had not been able to access the
Bank; the Bank questioned the advisability of market-based
financing. The Secretariat suggested that creditors consider the
possibility of not entering into force the second phase, arguing
that, by not enforcing its own conditionality, the Paris Club risked
creating moral hazard and treating performing debtor countries
unfairly. The IMF cautioned that, while Grenada may have the
capacity to pay its 2007 maturities, other countries in the future
may not. A Paris Club decision not to enter into force a phase of
debt relief could jeopardize IMF program elements and would be

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tantamount to withdrawing financing assurances.

----
Iraq
----

9. The Secretariat reported that neither Algeria nor Morocco had
replied to the letters it sent in April. The Secretariat had
informal contacts with Poland and Greece, which took note of the
issue but have not responded. The Secretariat distributed a letter
from Brazil's finance minister stating that efforts to conclude a
bilateral agreement with Iraq to implement the terms of the 2004
Paris Club agreement have been held up by domestic lawsuits
involving private and state-owned companies. The letter states that
Brazil is "forced to wait until such legal obstacles are overcome"
and that "given the normal pace of judicial procedures, it appears
unlikely that such moment will be reached in the short term." Asked
by the Secretariat about the timetable for these judicial
procedures, Brazil's representative said she had no information.

10. Germany denounced Iraqi Minister of Finance Jabr and Central
Bank Governor Al-Shabibi's May 30 letter to the Secretariat, for
distribution to Paris Club creditors. The letter accuses Germany of
circumventing UN sanctions and failing to restructure a post-1990
claim, in violation of Iraq's 2004 Paris Club agreement. Germany
denied the allegations, blamed Iraq's advisers for the delay in
resolving the dispute, and challenged the appropriateness of such a
communication given arbitration underway in Vienna. A week earlier,
Germany and Iraq had initialed a bilateral investment treaty in
preparation for the Prime Minister's visit; during those
discussions, the GOI had not raised this issue. Asked about the
timetable for resolution, Germany hoped the dispute would be settled
soon and promised to keep the Paris Club informed. The U.S.
expressed disappointment that a Paris Club member and a debtor that
was meeting its commitments were having trouble reaching an
agreement. The Secretariat said it was not the role of the Paris

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Club to take a position on what amounted to a bilateral issue.

11. Japan inquired about China. The Secretariat responded that,
based on information gained at the recent International Compact with
Iraq conference in Stockholm, Iraq's discussions with China were
advancing in a satisfactory way, though there was no specific date
for concluding an agreement.

-----
Libya
-----

12. The IMF reported that foreign exchange reserves were scheduled
to double by 2013, and that Libya established a $40-50 billion
sovereign wealth fund, the Libya Investment Authority, last year.
An IMF mission visited Tripoli for Article IV discussions in early
May; the Executive Board will discuss Libya in mid-July. In
November 2007, seven creditors reported arrears. Six creditors
(Austria, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland)
reported, with frustration, no progress since that time. Russia, on
the other hand, said it concluded an agreement on trade cooperation
in April 2008 that also settled the debt issue. The Netherlands
urged the remaining Paris Club creditors to maintain solidarity.
The Netherlands and Denmark had visited Tripoli recently and found
the authorities to be uncooperative; others echoed the view that
Libya shows no intention to resolve the issue. The Secretariat will
follow up with the authorities at the staff level to find out
whether the finance minister intends to respond to the Paris Club's
January 2008 letter, which expressed concern that Libya had
concluded bilateral agreements with certain creditors while
remaining in default toward seven Paris Club creditors. Italy
indicated that Libya was not negotiating in good faith with many
private creditors in Italy.

-------
Moldova

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-------

13. The IMF gave an upbeat assessment of Moldova's progress on its
PRGF, noting some concern about 16 percent inflation in April, and
said the fourth review is expected to be completed in July. Once
the IMF review is completed, the Paris Club intends to enter into
force the third phase of Moldova's May 2006 Paris Club agreement on
Houston terms. The third phase reschedules maturities falling due
during the period May 1, 2008, to December 31, 2008.

-------------------------
Russia: Promissory Notes
-------------------------

14. Following up on its April 2007 and July 2007 requests, Russia
asked creditors to either return promissory notes and bills of
exchange that were cancelled as a result of previous prepayment
operations or, alternatively, provide a document confirming that
Russia has paid these claims. Several creditors stated that they
had responded to Russia's request in 2007 and had requested GOR
confirmation of receipt, but were awaiting a response. Without
reacting to these comments, Russia repeated its request for letters
from creditors. The U.S. does not hold these notes and provided a
letter in September 2006 acknowledging GOR repayment of debts to the
U.S. in the context of Russia's August 2006 Paris Club buyback
operation.

-----
Sudan
-----

15. Sudan was on the tour d'horizon agenda to provide background
for French bank UBAF's presentation during the Paris Club's June 11
annual meeting with the private sector. At the outset, the
Secretariat stated that restoration of peace and safety would have
to precede normalizing relations with the financial community.

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Noting Sudan's protracted arrears, the IMF said it could normalize
relations with Sudan through an arrears clearance operation and a
new PRGF program if donors gave their financing assurances and
provided debt relief. Sudan's performance under a series of
Staff-Monitored Programs (SMPs) has been generally satisfactory and
the economic outlook is favorable (10 percent growth in 2007),
although the rise in food prices poses a challenge, and the external
debt overhang ($27 billion debt stock in nominal terms) remains a
concern. The Fund reported that Sudan's non-concessional borrowing
in 2007 was below the limit specified in the SMP and less than in
2006. Thus far in 2008, however, Sudan has already contracted $522
million in non-concessional debt, including asset-backed loans for
oil infrastructure development, approaching the current SMP's $700
million ceiling.

----
Togo
----

16. In view of Togo's limited capacity to pay, creditors agreed to
provide a generous "Naples flow" treatment that included 100 percent
capitalization of moratorium interest and deferral of post-cut-off
date and short-term debt. The agreement treated $735 million in
arrears and principal and interest payments falling due during
Togo's three-year PRGF program, and will lead to the immediate
cancellation of $347 million. At U.S. request, creditors agreed to
include a $10,000 de minimis provision. (Togo's debt to the U.S.
amounts to just $6,200 in arrears to Exim Bank.) The U.S. was an
observer and did not sign the Paris Club Agreed Minutes, but
provided a side letter stating our intention to cancel the debt once
Togo reaches HIPC decision point, consistent with our domestic
legislation on debt relief for HIPCs.

-------------------------
Methodological Discussion
U.S. Jubilee Legislation

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-------------------------

17. The U.S. briefed the Paris Club on the potential impact and
current status of the House Jubilee Act (H.R. 2634) and the Jubilee
Bill (S.2166) draft under consideration in the Senate. We explained
that the Administration formally opposed the legislation; noted
that, given the legislative calendar and the current austere budget
environment, it did not appear likely the Senate would pass its bill
this year; and explained how both houses produce a joint bill that
is sent to the President for consideration. Creditors posed a
series of questions. Belgium asked whether an IMF program was a
requirement for debt relief (it is not). The World Bank asked
whether the bill references the list of IDA-eligible countries at a
fixed point in time (it does not). The Secretariat inquired whether
the U.S. Executive Directors at the IFIs would have specific
instructions (yes, they would have to use voice and vote to achieve
the bill's objectives), and whether Congress had provided any
estimates of the cost of implementing the bill. The Netherlands
urged discussion of this legislation at the IMF and World Bank and
asked whether the legislation was anchored in the IMF/World Bank
Debt Sustainability Framework (DSF). Sweden and Norway asked about
provisions related to odious debts. Japan asked whether the
Administration would have another opportunity to testify against the
bill, and whether the President could veto the bill should it pass
Congress. Australia said the bill seemed to ignore progress
achieved in establishing the DSF, enhancing HIPC and implementing
the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, and promoting sustainable
lending through the OECD Export Credit Group's guidelines. The
Secretariat said that, while it was not for the Paris Club to adopt
a formal position toward the bill, the U.S. could take home the
message that the Club was "extremely vigilant" and that, if passed,
the legislation would cause problems for Paris Club creditors, the
IFIs, and debt policy doctrine.

--------------------------------
Methodological Discussion:

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Belgium's New Legislation
to Protect Against Vulture Funds
--------------------------------

18. Belgium briefed the Paris Club on its efforts since 2004 to
deal with vulture funds and described a recently passed law aimed at
preventing the "seizure or cession of public funds for international
cooperation, notably by vulture funds." The law, which took effect
May 27, protects Belgium's aid flows and covers debt rescheduled in
the Paris Club, but is not retroactive. Belgium still seeks a way
to deal with earlier cases. France commented that it has a similar
law that protects French ODA flows to HIPC countries. Italy noted
discussions in Rome about introducing a similar law to protect ODA
flows.

--------------------------
Methodological Discussion:
Paris Club Annual Report
--------------------------

19. The Secretariat distributed the inaugural publication of the
Paris Club Annual Report. The Secretariat, based on the response to
the report, will consider how to enrich the report next year. Japan
said it intends to publish a Japanese translation.

------------------------------------------
Methodological Discussion: Fragile States
------------------------------------------

20. Creditors discussed next steps with respect to France's
proposal that the Paris Club provide unconditional debt relief to
IDA-only countries under IMF Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance
programs (EPCAs). (Under France's proposal, the Paris Club would
defer all arrears and debt service falling due during the period of
the EPCA and fully capitalize moratorium interest. If the country
obtains a follow-on PRGF program, the deferred amounts would be

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rescheduled and the moratorium interest canceled. The U.S. does not
support the proposal.) The Secretariat noted that the Club had not
reached consensus: most creditors supported the proposal, but some
did not for both legal and policy reasons. The Secretariat will
circulate a new working paper once the IMF Executive Board conducts
its further discussion of a possible new instrument, provisionally
dubbed an "Economic Recovery Assistance Program," for fragile
states. In the meantime, creditors agreed to send a letter to
Guinea-Bissau stating the Paris Club's willingness to provide a debt
treatment once a PRGF arrangement is in place. The U.S. had
suggested such a letter as an alternative to France's proposal.

-------------------------------------
Meeting with the Private Sector
and Non-Paris Club Emerging Creditors
-------------------------------------

21. The Secretariat and Institute for International Finance (IIF)
co-hosted the Paris Club's eighth annual meeting with the private
sector. For the first time, representatives from some emerging
official creditors also attended: Abu Dhabi Fund for Development,
Brazil, Exim Bank of China, Israel, Kuwait Investment Authority,
South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. Based on the discussions, the
Secretariat will attempt to create two voluntary working groups: 1)
a Paris Club/non-Paris Club working group of official creditors to
discuss ways to improve information exchange and coordination; and
2) a Paris Club/private sector working group to discuss vulture fund
issues. The presentations and discussion included the following
topics.

-- South-South Financing: Representatives from China's EXIM Bank,
Kuwait, Turkey, South Africa and South Korea gave brief descriptions
of their lending programs. Asked how China understood comparability
of treatment in countries where the PRC is active in Africa, China
EXIM Bank's representative declined to provide an official view, and
stressed instead that China's growing involvement in natural

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resources reflected its rapid growth in domestic demand. Turkey
argued that it is not fair for the Paris Club to try to require
other creditors to provide comparable treatment. The Paris Club
Agreed Minutes set the benchmark; yet in Iraq's case, Paris Club
creditors held only 36 percent of the debt. The Paris Club should
take into account the economic impact of comparable treatment on the
creditor country.

-- Argentina Default: Nicola Stock (Italian Task Force Argentina)
reviewed bondholder efforts to recover funds following the default
and urged the Paris Club to consider the interests of private
creditors if it concludes an agreement with Argentina.

-- Vulture Funds: There was considerable discussion of vulture
funds. Hans Humes, Greylock Capital, argued that the term is
applied too widely, the actual problem is relatively small, and
proposed legislative responses could harm legitimate creditors and
investors. France, the U.S., and UK urged all creditors to provide
comparable debt relief to qualifying HIPCs, but also expressed legal
concerns about maintaining contracts and repayment incentives.
France and the UK encouraged support for HIPCs that face litigation.
The UK also encouraged private creditors to participate in IDA Debt
Reduction Facility operations and to avoid selling claims to
creditors that do not provide comparable treatment. Claire Husson
(Franklin Templeton Investments) argued it does not make sense for
the private sector not to sell HIPC claims when many developing
countries' domestic laws allow them to do so. Charles Dallara (IIF)
suggested that, where countries are cooperating to resolve debt
matters, collective action should discourage litigation. The UK,
supported by IIF, suggested a Paris Club/private sector working
group on vulture funds to continue the discussion. Paris Club
Chairman Xavier Musca stated his support for the working group and
the need for a coherent approach to address the free rider problem.

-- Impact of Credit Market Turmoil on Emerging Markets: Dallara
described an IIF project to develop a set of voluntary principles

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for private sector best practices in response to the weaknesses
exposed by the credit market turmoil, including areas such as
compensation structures, risk analysis, and rating agencies. The
final report will be released in July. Robert Gray of HSBC reported
on implementation of IIF's "Principles for Stable Capital Flows and
Fair Debt Restructuring in Emerging Markets," stating that the
Principles have led to improved communication between emerging
market authorities and investors, particularly through the Group of
Trustees of the Principles for Stable Capital Flows and Fair Debt
Restructuring in Emerging Markets, and better emerging market data
reporting.

-- IMF and World Bank Update: IMF and World Bank representatives
provided an update on their work on the Debt Sustainability
Framework, development of medium-term debt management strategies,
IDA's grant allocations based on the risk of debt distress, and
IDA's non-concessional borrowing policy.

-- Sudan: Patrick Legait (UBAF) discussed the case of Sudan, saying
it has sovereign debt which has been in default for 23 years. The
December 1981 commercial debt rescheduling was based on partial debt
reconciliation as of December 1979; in October 1985, there was $800
million in outstanding debt. A June 1987 repurchasing scheme
collapsed in April 1988. At this point, it is difficult to know the
amount of these claims or what entities hold them. In late 2007,
Sudan's Islamic bonds were denominated in euros because of OFAC
measures and were on three- to four-year terms; the Bank of Sudan
guaranteed the bonds, with repayment supplied by offshore sales of
Sudanese oil. In 2008, Sudan marketed prefinanced guaranteed oil
access, seeking out Islamic banks, oil traders and insurers. Legait
argued that Sudan's actions set a dangerous precedent: Sudan is
deliberately ignoring its sovereign debt and successfully raising
new money (see para 15).

STAPLETON


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2

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