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Cablegate: Turkish Officials Comment On Wto Agriculture

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

030753Z Dec 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 007397

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


STATE FOR EUR/SE, EB/EPD, AND EB/TPP/ABT
DEPT PLEASE PASS USTR FOR NOVELLI, DBIRDSEY, JHOFEMEISTER,
USDA FOR FAS FOR ITP/BERTSCH, MACKE, MEYER, HANSEN
USDOC FOR DEFALCO


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR KPAO TU
SUBJECT: Turkish Officials Comment on WTO Agriculture
Issues


Ref: State 224192


Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. DESPITE THE APPARENT FAILURE TO
REACH AGREEMENT IN CANCUN, TURKISH OFFICIALS CONSIDER
THE CONTINUATION OF WTO AGRICULTURE NEGOTIATIONS
ESSENTIAL TO THE HEALTH OF THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY.
TURKISH OFFICIALS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CANCUN
MEETINGS COMMENTED THAT THE UNITED STATES SHOWED LITTLE
FLEXIBILITY IN ITS NEGOTIATING POSITION ON AGRICULTURE
DURING THE MEETINGS WHILE THE EUROPEAN UNION SEEMED
MUCH MORE WILLING TO DISCUSS CONCERNS AND COMPROMISE
WITH DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) AGCOUNSLOR MET SEPARATELY WITH TWO TURKISH
OFFICIALS, HASAN HUSEYIN COSKUN, UNDER SECRETARY OF
AGRICULTURE AND AYLIN BEBEKOGLU, CHIEF OF SECTION IN
THE GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF AGREEMENTS AT THE
UNDERSECRETARIAT OF FOREIGN TRADE. BOTH OFFICIALS
ATTENDED THE WTO MEETINGS IN CANCUN AND PARTICIPATED
SPECIFICALLY IN THE AGRICULTURE DISCUSSIONS.


-----------------------------------
MINAG SUPPORTIVE BUT NO SUGGESTIONS
-----------------------------------
3. (SBU) U/S COSKUN SUPPORTED THE CONTINUATION OF
AGRICULTURAL NEGOTIATIONS IN THE WTO. HE NOTED THAT
THE NEGOTIATIONS WERE ESSENTIAL TO WORLD TRADE. AT THE
SAME TIME, HOWEVER, HE WAS UNABLE TO SUGGEST ANY STEPS
THAT MIGHT MOVE NEGOTIATIONS ALONG. INSTEAD, HE
SUGGESTED THAT THE UNITED STATES AND OTHER DEVELOPED
COUNTRIES NEED TO DEVELOP NEW PROPOSALS TO BRING
COUNTRIES BACK TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE. COMMENT. IN
GENERAL, THE TURKISH AGRICULTURE OFFICIALS ARE NON-
COMMITTAL ON TRADE NEGOTIATIONS. IN THE PAST, MINAG
OFFICIALS HAVE STATED THEIR SUPPORT FOR TRADE
LIBERALIZATION, WHILE CONTINUE TO PURSUE A POLICY OF
SELF-SUFFICIENCY AND MARKET PROTECTION. TURKISH
AGRICULTURE OFFICIALS HAVE OFTEN STATED THAT HIGH
TARIFFS ARE NECESSARY TO PROTECT TURKISH AGRICULTURE
AGAINST THE HIGH DOMESTIC SUPPORT PROGRAMS IN EUROPE
AND THE UNITED STATES.


--------------------------
U.S.-EU BUSINESS AS USUAL?
--------------------------
4. (SBU) In contrast to the Ministry of Agriculture,
Ms. Bebekoglu from the Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade
was much more forthcoming in her comments on the Cancun
meetings. Ms. Bebekoglu was surprised at the text of the
proposal submitted by the United States. She remarked that
the agreement between the United and the EU on domestic
support reached prior to the meetings left out too many
important details particularly with regard to the products
covered. Moreover, she offered that many developing
countries felt that the United States and European Union
were trying to broker a deal without including other
countries, most importantly, developing countries in the
negotiations. According to Ms. Bebekoglu, developing
countries opposed the text reasoning that once the United
States and EU reached agreement to resolve their
differences, there would be little room in the negotiations
for smaller countries. It was also the Turkish impression
that most countries at the end of the meetings were very
close to reaching an agreement and this concerned Turkey's
representatives because they did not like the text.


------------------------------
U.S. Position - Too Inflexible
------------------------------
5. (SBU) Turkey considers itself a part of two worlds. On
the one hand, it believes that the possibility of EU
membership should guide its polices including adopting EU
regulations. At the same time, Turkish officials believe
their country has much in common with the Group of 21.
Although it did not join the Group of 21, Ms. Bebekoglu
commented that Turkey has very similar interests in trade as
India, which did join the Group of 21. Most of the
criticism for the difficulties during the negotiations was
directed at the United States. According to Ms. Bebekoglu
the United States is demanding too much on market access
from other countries while it is unwilling to provide
sufficient decreases in the U.S. domestic support programs.
In her opinion, either the United States needs to give
greater reductions in the domestic support programs and
export subsidies or it must ask less of developing countries
in the area of market access.


-----------------------------
EU Wins the Perception Battle
-----------------------------
6. (SBU) PERHAPS THE MOST TELLING COMMENT BY TURKISH
OFFICIALS WAS THE TURKISH PERCEPTION THAT THE UNITED
STATES DISPLAYED VERY LITTLE FLEXIBILITY DURING THE
NEGOTIATIONS. ACCORDING TO TURKISH OFFICIALS, THE EU
DELEGATION SEEMED MUCH MORE WILLING THAN THE UNITED
STATES TO NEGOTIATE AND COMPROMISE WITH DEVELOPING
COUNTRIES. THIS PERCEPTION MOST LIKELY CONTRIBUTED TO
THE IMPASSE IN CANCUN.


------------------------------------
Multilateral Vs Bilateral Agreements
------------------------------------
7. (SBU) In general, Turkish officials believe that it is
extremely important to find a way to encourage agriculture
negotiations. Turkey firmly supports a multilateral
approach to international negotiations. Both officials
commented that any trend in pursuing bilateral agreements
will do more harm to the multilateral trade system.
Interestingly, the Turkish representatives characterized the
outcome of Cancun as a "success" for the Group of 21 and
that the failure to reach an agreement would allow a better
review of the text and input from other countries.


--------------------
Comment: Next Steps
--------------------
8. (SBU) Agriculture is one of the more sensitive areas for
Turkey and Turkish officials. With such a large portion of
the population (25 - 30 percent) involved in some aspect of
agriculture and 40 percent of the population living in rural
areas, Turkish officials are reluctant to agree to any
changes that might increase competition for this sector.
World Bank officials have commented on the progress Turkey
has made over the past few years reducing domestic support
programs. As a result, Turkish officials are much more
hesitant to relent on demands for greater market access
without any clear benefits to its own agriculture sector.
More troubling perhaps, is the perception of U.S.
inflexibility compared with the European Union. EU-Turkish
agriculture trade relations have been less than cordial
despite the existence of a customs union and the possibility
of EU membership in the distant future. As a result, the
United States may have an uphill battle in convincing
countries like Turkey that the U.S. position is indeed in
their interest.


Deutsch

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