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Cablegate: Sierra Leone Enthusiastic About Agoa Forum

VZCZCXRO3384
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0387 2180838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050838Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2093
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000387

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W (HUNTER), AF/EPS (BREITER/POTASH)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD SL
SUBJECT: SIERRA LEONE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT AGOA FORUM

REF: FREETOWN 380

1. Summary: Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) officials on
July 31 expressed gratitude to the Ambassador for
facilitating their participation in the recent AGOA Forum,
and shared preliminary plans to capitalize on AGOA
opportunities. Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Cooperation and the Deputy Minister of Trade
and Industry expressed their thanks for the Forum, and desire
to actively engage with the USG on AGOA-related matters. End
Summary.

2. Ambassador Perry, DCM, Poloff, and Deskoff met with
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Zainab Bangura on July 31 (meeting details to be reported
septel). Minister Bangura noted the helpful nature of the
AGOA Forum for GoSL delegate members, with the result that
the Ministers of Finance and Trade and Industry will be
accompanying President Koroma on his first official visit to
the United States in September for follow-up meetings (see
reftel). According to the Foreign Minister, President Koroma
will address a forum encouraging further foreign investment
in Sierra Leone convened by former Assistant USTR
Representative Rose Whitaker while he is in Washington.

3. DCM, Poloff, and Deskoff also met with Deputy Minister for
Trade and Industry Mabinty Daramy on July 31. Deputy Minister
Daramy attended the AGOA Forum and found the session on
foreign direct investment and the manufacturing sector
particularly helpful. She met with the African Development
Foundation (ADF) President to discuss potential support for
investing in small businesses and assistance for marginalized
groups. Deputy Minister Daramy is pushing the Minister of
Trade and Industry to establish an AGOA Desk to better enable
the GoSL to take advantage of AGOA benefits. She also asked
for increased U.S. advocacy in promoting investment in Sierra
Leone, and requested that USG web-based public reports not
refer to Sierra Leone as "post-conflict" or dangerous. DCM,
Poloff, and Deputy Minister Daramy agreed to conduct a joint
visit to a textiles manufacturing plant in the near future as
a way of examining AGOA opportunities further.

4. Comment: The Koroma administration is intent on building
the country's commercial and manufacturing sectors and
increasing investment. The AGOA forum sparked greater GoSL
interest in ways to accomplish those goals, but will likely
require further technical assistance and encouragement from
the Mission to turn that interest into action. End Comment.
FEDZER

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