Cablegate: Commerce Minister Propose December Tifa; Seeks Increased Us
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2178/01 2831524
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101524Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1171
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 8059
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002178
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E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON EINV EAID NI
SUBJECT: COMMERCE MINISTER PROPOSE DECEMBER TIFA; SEEKS INCREASED US
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
1. (SBU) Summary. Minister of Commerce and Industry Charles Ugwuh
proposed December 10-11 as possible dates for the Trade Investment
Framework Agreement (TIFA) 2007 Council meeting in Abuja. He said
the Nigeria government (GON) is enthusiastic, but has yet to discuss
an inter-agency approved agenda. The Minister is seeking partners
in the petrochemicals sector and advocated for U.S. companies to
invest. End Summary.
2. (SBU) on October 9 Minister Ugwuh told Economic Counselor that he
welcomes the TIFA Council meetings and appreciates the opportunity
it provides for the U.S. and Nigeria to discuss trade and investment
issues. Ugwuh has yet to be briefed on the TIFA and postponed
discussion of USG workplan and agenda. He expects to have a
dialogue with the private sector to get their views before
discussion of the final GON points and hopes to include that sector
in the TIFA Council program. Regarding TIFA dates, Ugwuh suggested
December 10 and 11 because he is traveling to Malaysia and other
countries in November.
Ugwuh's Industry Strategy
3. (SBU) Minister Ugwuh wants to encourage the GON and foreign
companies to invest in the petrochemicals sector because the raw
materials are available in Nigeria and create jobs. The idea was
crystallized during his September trip to China and his observation
of how the Chinese have been able to create jobs for their citizens.
4. (SBU) Minister Ugwuh stressed that the GON is looking for
partners in the petrochemical sector, including U.S oil majors such
as ExxonMobil and Chevron. The U.S. has the technology and Nigeria
has remained a good ally of the U.S., and Ugwuh referred to the U.S
partnership with Saudi Arabia in establishing its petrochemical
sector in the 1970's. He remarked "when someone says he is your
friend and you are in doubt, a time will come when you will hold his
hands and look into his eyes and ask if he is really a true friend".
"If the U.S. does not want to partner with us we may have to look
elsewhere, possibly China".
5. (SBU) To implement his vision, he plans to establish industrial
clusters and industrial parks in the six Nigerian geo-political
zones with the GON providing the requisite infrastructure. Minister
Ugwuh would lobby the cabinet and President for the GON to invest in
6. (SBU) When asked about his trade philosophy, Ugwuh responded that
he is not a protectionist and favors removal of trade barriers. He
hoped to remove trade barriers, but contended that Nigeria's weak
local industrial base and poor infrastructure presented a dilemma.
Before removing barriers, local producers needed competitive
alternatives, otherwise he would fail in his goal of job creation.
AGOA & Bilateral Relationship
7. (SBU) Minister Ugwuh commended the U.S. for providing market
access to sub-Saharan African countries through AGOA and confessed
that Nigeria is yet to take advantage of the benefits available
under AGOA because it is yet to "put its house in order." He
emphasized the need for Nigeria to build capacity in order to
benefit from AGOA.
8. (SBU) On the relationship between both countries, Minister Ugwuh
said he wants to see more U.S. investment in Nigeria, and "we want
you to partner with us." He contended that the relationship has
gone beyond the U.S. pointing Nigeria in the right direction.
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9. (SBU) The Minister was energetic and passionate about his vision
for Nigeria and increasing U.S. investment in Nigeria. As former
President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Ugwuh knows the
commercial issues facing industry. Whether he is a free trader is
yet to be determined based on his short-time in office.
10. (U) Engineer Charles Chukwuemeka Ugwuh, an industrialist, was
the immediate past president of the Manufacturers Association of
Nigeria, and is Chairman of both Rokana Industries and Hydro
Resources Industries Limited. Embassy industry contacts consider
him an active and successful industrialist, and believe he will be a
strong voice for local manufacturers.
11. (U) Ugwuh holds a Higher National Diploma in Mechanical
Engineering and an Advanced Diploma in Power Engineering from
Borough Polytechnic, London. He also holds a Master of Science
degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in
thermodynamics from Birmingham University, England. Ugwuh was born
on December 3, 1942.