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Cablegate: Ambassador's Courtesy Call On Environment Minister

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

200407Z Nov 03

UNCLAS COLOMBO 002003

SIPDIS

DEPT PLEASE PASS TO OES/EP, SA/INS, SA/RA, USAID FOR
BERNADETTE BUNDY - ANE/SA; TREASURY FOR KATIE BERG AND ROY
ADKINS; USTR FOR AUSTR WILLS; COMMERCE FOR ARIADNE BENAISSA

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
TAGS: SENV ETRD EFIN EAID PREL CE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S COURTESY CALL ON ENVIRONMENT MINISTER
RUKMAN SENANAYAKE


1. (U) This telegram is sensitive but unclassified, please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary: During his initial courtesy call with
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Senanayake on
November 18, the Ambassador discussed the Tropical Forest
Conservation Act initiative and potential environmental
issues related to US Trade Promotion Authority. Senanayake
was enthusiastic about TFCA and indicated the GSL is
preparing enabling legislation. He admitted to problems
with certain NGOs, but was optimistic about getting
eventual agreement. Senanayake used the discussion on
trade-related environmental issues to express GSL
appreciation for USAID efforts to implement air quality
improvement measures, particularly emission standards and
testing. End Summary

TFCA
----
3. (U) Ambassador paid an initial courtesy call on Minister
for Environment and Natural Resources Rukman Senanayake on
November 18. The Ambassador noted his recent conversations
in Washington on the Tropical Forest Conservation Act
(TFCA) initiative. The US is ready to move forward with
this initiative.

4. (SBU) Senanayake was enthusiastic about TFCA but
frustrated with the criticisms being voiced by certain
segments of the NGO community. He complained that certain
Sri Lankan NGOs lacked technical capacity and were
primarily politically motivated. Ambassador suggested that
he and Senanayake jointly host a meeting with NGO reps and
other stakeholders to respond to concerns. Senanayake
agreed and noted that upcoming public discussions on the
enabling legislation would provide a good backdrop for such
a meeting. (Note: The legislation is currently with the
GSL's legal draftsmen. Once completed, it will come to the
Ministry and the Minister will host a public meeting to
answer questions and get input. After that, the bill would
be submitted to the cabinet committee, followed by a
consultative committee of parliament, before being
submitted to parliament for final consideration. End Note.)

Potential FTA Negotiations
--------------------------
5. (SBU) The Ambassador then noted that the Environment
Ministry would likely play a key role in any potential
negotiation of an FTA and explained the environmental
portions of US Trade Promotion Authority. Senanayake
acknowledged the importance of a potential FTA and said his
ministry was working to improve enforcement of
environmental standards. Senanayake said that Sri Lankans
were environmentally conscious. While some countries might
find value in lowering environmental standards for
industrial gain, such a move would not be acceptable in Sri
Lanka.

6. (SBU) In this vein, Senanayake noted USAID assistance in
the area of air quality improvement, particularly with
regard to vehicle emissions and testing. USAID-sponsored
experts and projects have played a significant role on
reducing emissions and have been instrumental in framing
appropriate policy responses to the problem. He indicated
the ministry's goal was to improve enforcement, but to
operate initially through a cooperative process aimed at
ensuring widespread public exposure to new environmental
rules.

LUNSTEAD

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