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Cablegate: Amcham Board of Directors Luncheon in Honor of Ambassador

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2588/01 3241614
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201614Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6525
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 5741
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1450
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5594
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0998
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 1902
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 5946
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0237
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0792
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 5354
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3037
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002588

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E FOR THOMAS PIERCE, WHA FOR WHA/BSC AND WHA/EPSC
PASS NSC FOR JOSE CARDENAS
PASS FED BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR PATRICE ROBITAILLE
EX-IM BANK FOR MICHELE WILKINS
OPIC FOR GEORGE SCHULTZ AND RUTH ANN NICASTRI
PASS USTR FOR SUE CRONIN AND MARY SULLIVAN
TREASURY FOR ALICE FAIBISHENKO
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/OLAC/PEACHER
US SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KTEX AR
SUBJECT: AMCHAM BOARD OF DIRECTORS LUNCHEON IN HONOR OF AMBASSADOR
TONY WAYNE

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED (NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION)
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF
COMMERCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS HOSTED A LUNCHEON IN HONOR OF AMBASSADOR
WAYNE TO WELCOME HIM TO ARGENTINA AND BRIEF HIM ON THE BUSINESS
CLIMATE AND THE CONTRIBUTION U.S. COMPANIES HAVE HISTORICALLY MADE
AND CONTINUE TO MAKE IN ARGENTINA. OVERALL, THE PARTICIPATING
EXECUTIVES SAID THAT BUSINESS WAS GOING WELL, BUT ALSO INDICATED
THAT ARGENTINA WOULD NEED TO STRENGHTEN ITS COMPETITIVE EDGE IN A
NUMBER OF KEY AREAS IN ORDER TO COMPETE MORE EFFECTIVELY FOR
ADDITIONAL MAJOR INVESTMENTS BY THEIR PARENT COMPANIES IN THE
FUTURE. NOT SURPRISINGLY, SOME WERE CHAFFING UNDER PRICE CAPS
(FORMAL AND INFORMAL). THE AMBASSADOR OFFERED STRONG EMBASSY
SUPPORT FOR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR
THE IMPORTANT ROLE THEY PLAY IN THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL WELLBEING OF
ARGENTINA. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS HOSTED A LUNCHEON IN HONOR OF AMBASSADOR WAYNE
TO WELCOME HIM TO ARGENTINA AND BRIEF HIM ON THE BUSINESS CLIMATE
AND THE CONTRIBUTION U.S. COMPANIES HAVE HISTORICALLY MADE AND
CONTINUE TO MAKE IN ARGENTINA. PARTICIPATING COMPANIES INCLUDED
LOCKWOOD GREENE, UNITED AIRLINES, MERCK, PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS, GE,
CITIBANK, LOCKHEED MARTIN, PROCTOR & GAMBLE, FORD, GM, MCDONALD'S,
WAL-MART, EXXONMOBIL, HEWLETT PACKARD, COCA-COLA, DOW, SHERATON
HOTELS/STARWOOD, 3M, CHEVRON TEXACO, ELI LILLY, CARGILL, CMS,
AMERICAN EXPRESS, PRUDENTIAL, AND PHILIP MORRIS. MOST OF THE
COMPANIES WERE REPRESENTED BY THEIR CEOS, MANY OF WHOM HAVE REGIONAL
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE SOUTHERN CONE. COMMERCIAL COUNSELOR BRIAN
BRISSON AND ECONOMIC COUNSELOR DOUGLAS CLIMAN ALSO PARTICIPATED.

3. (SBU) ON THE WHOLE, THE COMPANIES INDICATED THAT THEY WERE DOING
FAIRLY WELL IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT AND SAID THAT THEY
COULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED WHEN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS BEGAN FOUR YEARS
AGO THAT THEY WOULD BE DOING SO WELL TODAY. IT WAS CLEAR THAT THE
FORMAL AND INFORMAL PRICE CONTROLS AND CAPS WERE NOT POPULAR. OTHER
CONCERNS THAT WERE MOST OFTEN VOICED HAD TO DO WITH FEARS OF AN
EVENTUAL SHORTAGE OF HYDROCARBONS AND ELECTRIC POWER, INFLATION IN
THE MEDIUM AND LONG TERM, AND THE STABILITY AND PREDICTABILITY OF
REGULATIONS THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THEIR OPERATIONS IN ARGENTINA.
THEY EXPRESSED A STRONG DESIRE TO DO ALL THEY COULD TO INCREASE
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT IN ARGENTINA BY THEIR PARENT COMPANIES SO
THAT ARGENTINA COULD PLAY A BIGGER ROLE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY AND
GENERATE GREATER INCOME AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE ARGENTINE LABOR
FORCE. NEVERTHELESS, THEY ALSO SAID THAT THE ARGENTINE SUBSIDIARIES
OF THEIR COMPANIES HAVE TO COMPETE AGAINST THE SUBSIDIARIES THAT
THEIR COMPANIES HAVE IN OTHER COUNTRIES FOR NEW GLOBAL INVESTMENT
PROJECTS. THE EXECUTIVES SAID THAT COMPETITION WAS VERY STRONG FOR
NEW PROJECTS AND THAT RESOLUTION OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED CONCERNS
WOULD GREATLY ENHANCE THEIR ABILITY TO PROMOTE ARGENTINA AS A
DESTINATION FOR INVESTMENT BY THEIR PARENT COMPANIES IN NEW
PROJECTS. THEY ALSO EXPRESSED AN INTEREST IN SEEING THE GOA
INCREASE ITS GLOBAL COMMERCIAL ENGAGEMENT AS A WAY OF IMPROVING
THEIR ABILITY TO UTILIZE ARGENTINA AS A REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
PRODUCTION AND SERVICE PLATFORM.

4. (SBU) THE AMBASSADOR EXPRESSED HIS WILLINGNESS TO DO ALL THAT HE
COULD DO TO ENGAGE THE GOA IN A DIALOGUE AIMED AT STRENGTHENING THE
COUNTRY'S COMPETITIVENESS, AS WELL AS TO HIGHLIGHT TO THE GOVERNMENT
AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC THE IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS U.S. COMPANIES
HAVE MADE TO ARGENTINA'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND RECOVERY. THE
AMBASSADOR ALSO CONGRATULATED THE FIRMS FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO
SOCIAL SERVICE NOTING THAT HIS FIRST PUBLIC EVENT WAS THE AMCHAM'S
CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP AWARDS CEREMONY ON NOVEMBER 7. THE FIRMS SAID
FOR THOMAS PIERCE, WHA FOR WHA/BSC AND WHA/EPSC
PASS NSC FOR JOSE CARDENAS
PASS FED BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR PATRICE ROBITAILLE
EX-IM BANK FOR MICHELE WILKINS
OPIC FOR GEORGE SCHULTZ AND RUTH ANN NICASTRI
PASS USTR FOR SUE CRONIN AND M

THEY APPRECIATED THE EMBASSY'S SUPPORT. THE AMBASSADOR ALSO TOLD THE
COMPANIES THAT HE IS INTERESTED IN VISITING THEIR COMPANIES AND
BECOMING MORE FAMILIAR WITH THEIR ARGENTINE OPERATIONS. HIS FIRST
TWO VISITS WILL TAKE PLACE ON NOVEMBER 21 AND 22 WHEN HE TOURS THE
FACILITIES OF GENERAL MOTORS AND CARGILL IN ROSARIO, ARGENTINA'S
SECOND MOST IMPORTANT CITY.

5. (SBU) PRESS COVERAGE OF THE LUNCHEON WAS QUITE HEAVY AND BEGAN
DAYS BEFORE THE LUNCHEON EVEN TOOK PLACE. SOME PRESS REPORTS
EXAGGERATED THE CONCERNS EXPRESSED BY THE FIRMS DURING THE LUNCH,
BUT MOST OF THE REPORTS WERE RELATIVELY ACCURATE AND POSITIVE
REFLECTING THE PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE EMBASSY AFTER THE
LUNCH.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: THE AMBASSADOR'S FIRST MEETING WITH THE U.S.
BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN ARGENTINA WAS CHARACTERIZED BY AN OPEN
DISCUSSION OF THE CURRENT BUSINESS REALITY.
ALMOST EVERY MEMBER OF THE AMCHAM BOARD OF DIRECTORS WAS PRESENT.
THE COMPANIES SAID THEY APPRECIATE USG SUPPORT FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN
THE BUSINESS CLIMATE, BUT COUNSELED AGAINST ANY AGGRESSIVE OR PUBLIC
COMMENTS ABOUT GOA POLICIES. END COMMENT. WAYNE

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