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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Visit of Dustr Josette Sheeran Shiner

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 001769

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO USTR - AMB WILLS/JROSENBAUM/DSPOONER;
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE FOR AMB SHINER; AMEMBASSY BEIJING FOR AMB
SHINER
FOR DUSTR SHINER FROM AMBASSADOR LUNSTEAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON CE
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR VISIT OF DUSTR JOSETTE SHEERAN SHINER
TO COLOMBO

1. (U) This message is SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

2. (SBU) Summary: Post looks forward to the visit of DUSTR
Shiner and her delegation for the Trade and Investment
Framework Agreement Joint Council talks on October 14 and 15.
This is an excellent time to visit Sri Lanka in order to get a
better understanding of the economic and political climate.
The Peace Process is at a crossroads, with an LTTE
counterproposal expected soon. Economic indicators are good
and the GSL is in a very forward-leaning mode on trade
liberalization and the Doha round. The Prime Minister will
head the GSL TIFA delegation and host the meeting during a
working lunch at his office. The GSL's top economic priority
at this juncture is a FTA with the US and they intend to use
this visit to make their case. End Summary.

3. (SBU) Embassy Colombo looks forward to your visit and the
opportunity to hold the third round of TIFA Joint Council talks
with the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL). Your visit comes at an
opportune time:

--The GSL is awaiting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's
(LTTE) counterproposal regarding an interim administration of
the north and east, which will likely set the tone and tenor
for the resumption of peace talks.

--The Central Bank released its analysis for the first half of
2003 and indicators are positive, exceeding expectations of
earlier in the year.

--In the post-Cancun environment, the GSL is basking in the
light of USTR Zoellick's praises, while anti-globalization
groups try to pillory them for supposedly ignoring the plight
of their developing country bretheren.

--Anticipation of an FTA with the U.S. is high, with Minister
of Commerce Ravi Karunanayake publicly assuring Sri Lanka that
an agreement will be in place around the time of the expiration
of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in January 2005.

4. (SBU) The GSL is anxious about our position vis--vis a
Free Trade Agreement. The TIFA talks themselves will take
place at the Prime Minister's office over a working lunch. The
PM is personally guiding the bilateral trade relationship with
the US. You will find a receptive audience to US ideas on
Doha, an upbeat assessment on the direction of the economic
reform program, hopeful anticipation for next steps in the
peace process and a single-minded focus on meeting US
requirements for a FTA.

5. (U) In addition to TIFA, you will have a chance to exchange
ideas with members of the business community, NGO
representatives and labor advocates. You will also visit two
state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and meet with a very
forward looking apparel industry working group. President
Kumaratunga will be out of the country, but has asked that you
meet with one of her key advisors, former Foreign Minister
Lakshman Kadirgamar.
LUNSTEAD

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