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Cablegate: Nigeria - Customs' Views On Trade and Ip

VZCZCXRO3134
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2003/01 2841019
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101019Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4141
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 0058
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEBWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASH DC
RUCPDO/USDOC WASHDC
RUEATRS/TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002003

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO USTR- AGAMA AND GARDE, EXIM-JRICHTER, USPTO-THICKEY
DOJ FOR MARIE-FLORE KOUAME
TREASURY FOR PETERS AND HALL
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS, 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS AND CLDP
NEZERA
USDA/FAS FOR C. MCKINNELL, R. VERDONK

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: ETRD KIPR ECON EINV EAID EAGR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA - CUSTOMS' VIEWS ON TRADE AND IP

REF: A. ABUJA 1925
B. ABUJA 1039

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR DISTRO OUTSIDE USG

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 8, 2008 DepEconCouns met with Grace
Adeyemo, Deputy Comptroller For Economic Relations at the Nigerian
Customs Service (NCS) to discuss trade and intellectual property
(IP) issues. Adeyemo reported that the recent changes to Nigeria's
trade policy that reduced banned import categories from 44 to 26
were partly due to the Embassy's persistent advocacy over the past
two years with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and
Industry and other high-level Nigerian government officials (reftel
A). She stated that the NCS was fully committed to IP enforcement,
and with USG assistance, wants to create an IP Unit/Framework to
increase enforcement. In addition, an amendment to the Common
External Tariff Book for 2008-2012 has given NCS new powers to
prosecute IP pirates. The USG should embrace this opportunity to
provide technical assistance and capacity building to NCS
considering the recent major trade policy reversals. End Summary.
.
USG Advocacy Changed GON Policy
-------------------------------
.
2. (SBU) On October 8, 2008 DepEconCouns met with Grace Adeyemo,
Deputy Comptroller For Economic Relations at the Nigerian Customs
Service to discuss trade, and intellectual property issues. Adeyemo
contended that USG advocacy led to a reassessment of Nigeria's trade
policy and that the December 2007 Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement Council Meeting in Abuja, and the TIFA digital video
conference (DVC) in April in Abuja greatly helped solidify and give
impetus for the GON's reduction in import bans. She said NCS agreed
with the USG position on removing bans because of NCS concerns that
the bans increased smuggling. NCS strongly advocated within the
interagency process to review and reduce import bans. Adeyemo
underscored the need for continued engagement by the USG with
Nigerian officials this fall and winter to continue the momentum.
(NOTE: Adeyemo is integral member of the Nigerian interagency team
on the TIFA Council Meetings, intellectual property rights
enforcement cooperation and issues dealing with temporary import
licenses. END NOTE)
.
NCS requests USG Technical Assistance
-------------------------------------
.
3. (SBU) Adeyemo requested that the USG provide technical assistance
to NCS to create an IP unit. She presented a letter from NCS to the
Ambassador and Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice
(DOJ) requesting technical assistance, capacity building and help in
developing a strategy. The letter also encourages rights holders
and NCS to form a Public Private Partnership and seeks assistance
from rightholder organizations. Adeyemo added that she had been in
direct contact with DOJ regarding training.
.
NCS Gets More Power to Seize, Arrest and Prosecute
--------------------------------------------- -----
.
4. (SBU) Adeyemo reported that following the June IP seminar and
repeated USG admonitions requesting GON action to curb importation
of pirated goods, NCS took the initiative to request an amendment to
the proposed 2008-2012 Common External Tariff Book. The Fiscal
Policy Amendment now allows the NCS to "institute legal proceedings
on matters contravening any provision of fiscal policy including all
counterfeit materials or articles including base or counterfeit coin
of any country" and is included in the 2008-1012 Common External
Tariff Book announced on September 24, 2008 (reftel A). Adeyemo
commented that the amendment gives NCS power to search, seize,
detain or remove contraband goods without a warrant and to begin
legal proceedings on behalf of the Attorney General. She noted that
the NCS Legal Department was fully aware of this change and ready
and willing to build cases and prosecute IPR violators.
.
Bilateral Investment Treaty Still on the Table
--------------------------------------------- -
.
5. (SBU) Adeyemo shared that Tanimu Yakubu, Chief Economic Advisor
to President Yar'Adua, had called for an interagency meeting on
October 6 to discuss Nigeria's position on a bilateral investment
treaty (BIT), but at the last minute the meeting was cancelled. She

ABUJA 00002003 002 OF 002


surmised that an impending cabinet reshuffle may have caused the
delay.
.
IPR Cooperation - Not There Yet
-------------------------------
.
6. (SBU) In follow-up to the August 18-19 Optical Disk Enforcement
Workshop in Lagos (septel), Adeyemo reported that despite her best
efforts to form an interagency task force on IP, the Nigerian
Copyright Commission (NCC) has not been cooperative. She said the
NCC failed to convene or participate in forming a task force in
contravention of comments made by the NCC at the August workshop.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: USG trade policy advocacy has led to a reduction
in import bans and increased awareness and interagency involvement
of the NCS on IPR. The NCS is taking a major step forward in trying
to intercept pirated goods destined for Nigeria and other parts of
Africa. Plans for a USPTO sponsored Customs workshop in the
March-May 2009 timeframe would serve as an excellent example of the
USG stepping up to the plate to engage with a Nigerian agency ready,
willing and able to reduce pirated products in Nigeria. END COMMENT


8. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.

PIASCIK

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