Cablegate: Developing a Commercial Platform at Non-Foreign
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001464
FOR EB:CHARLES FORD, EB/CBA:DWINSTEAD, SA:AGOEL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP EINV ECON AMGT AODE CE MV ECONOMICS
SUBJECT: DEVELOPING A COMMERCIAL PLATFORM AT NON-FOREIGN
COMMERCIAL SERVICE POSTS
REF: STATE 174107
1. Post appreciates the efforts to better support non-FCS
Commercial offices, and welcomes this review. Following are
suggestions for consideration. Responses are keyed to the
four main areas delineated in reftel.
2. Resource Allocation:
-- With limited resources, it makes sense to concentrate on
posts with the greatest potential. Though, conceivably, each
country has potential importers of US products, or government
tenders attractive to US firms, there are not enough
resources to support each equally. A regularly updated
study of where the greatest potential return should be could
help direct resources more rationally. Criteria for the
study should take into consideration: interest by US
investors/firms, range of potential projects, amount of
reliable information generally available, stability of
political situation. A minimum amount of support should be
available to all posts, but resources above that minimum
range would vary according to these factors.
-- Creative uses of resources should be encouraged, but
guidance is needed. For example, can Post, with limited
manpower resources, outsource a Company Profile to the local
Dun & Bradstreet rep? Can Amcham be used to provide business
-- The current system for collecting and disbursing
commercial fees at non-FCS posts is slow and cumbersome.
Posts should be allowed to keep the funds, with regular
-- Hard copies of some materials would still be helpful in
lesser developed countries, and the move to electronic
information with no more printed catalogs restricts access.
Perhaps something for EB and Commerce to consider would be
providing funding and layout content for local production,
which might be cheaper and more targeted than mass
3. Program Integration with FCS:
-- Visits by experienced commercial officers to post would be
helpful. It is not always possible to convey all necessary
information by phone or email. A visit of a few days would
allow discussions on more complex questions.
-- A commercial advocacy questions forum on-line, either as
an IM program or one or two senior ECON/FCS officers per
region, available on email to answer questions would provide
a useful tool for officers in the field.
-- Econ Officers could accompany a delegation to a US trade
show from a neighboring FCS country, with or without host
country participants. If it is in an important sector, the
information gathered could be brought back to Post for use
with local firms.
-- Also, regularly updated information about delegations
traveling from neighboring countries to US trade shows could
help officers push for participation by local firms.
-- Each FSO and FSN should visit his or her partner post at
least once. Partner posts should make available to the
American business community information on constituent post
opportunities (CCGs, updates, background, IMIs).
-- Integration with FCS information systems and databases
would enhance both communication and reporting capabilities.
Non-FCS posts could enter data on local firms and could
access US company information. Cables are not useful
vehicles for FCS and DoS does not have easy access to the DoC
email directory. State officers cannot enter reports
directly into the DoC system, and have to upload them, with
difficulties caused by incompatible formats. (Note: The BFIF
Instant Messaging System is helpful and welcome.)
-- FCS trade promotion efforts and training opportunities in
partnerships posts (and regional centers) should include
4. Assessment of Business Priority Needs
-- Each non-FCS post can assess what the priority needs are,
e.g., reliable market information, government advocacy,
political/economic updates, information on US products. This
profile can guide resource allocation, assistance, and
training for employees.
-- A commercial mission statement, with a list of best
practices and guidelines, particularly focusing on roles of
Ambassador, DCM and sections would be helpful both for
missions and for the US firms using commercial services.
5. Training Needs
-- Training for both FSOs and FSNs is critical to give
baseline information to all staff. Resources are needed to
send all FSOs, and FSNs, if possible, to training in the
Dept. Regional training sessions may offer less expensive,
more tailored options.
-- Commercial Tradecraft should address specific needs of
post, utilizing the profile mentioned below above to inform
and train individuals about the expectations at his or her