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Cablegate: Next Steps On Asean-U.S. Trade Cooperation

VZCZCXRO3822
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGP #1828/01 2750204
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020204Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4140
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2631
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1970
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4091
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5690

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SINGAPORE 001828

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE PASS USTR FOR BWEISEL, DBELL, VESPINEL
COMMERCE FOR JBAKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EINV KIPR ECON SN
SUBJECT: NEXT STEPS ON ASEAN-U.S. TRADE COOPERATION


1. (SBU) Summary: ASEAN countries are on track to achieve their
specific trade-related objectives in time for the November Summit in
Singapore, GOS officials told visiting Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade
Representative Doug Bell. They expressed confidence that an
enhanced trade dispute resolution mechanism will help "enforce"
ASEAN's agenda for economic integration. For next steps under the
ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Arrangement (TIFA), the GOS asked
USTR to conduct an investment survey and to facilitate capacity
building initiatives related to intellectual property and
competition policy. They cautioned that USTR's desire to begin work
on services liberalization is too ambitious for some ASEAN members,
but asked for more information about what sectors might be involved.
They suggested that in tandem with development of a TIFA work plan,
both sides should think about deliverables for the planned
U.S.-ASEAN 30th Anniversary Summit Dialogue to be hosted by the
President in Texas. DAUSTR Bell also raised ASEAN participation in
the Multi-Chip Integrated Circuit Agreement. End summary.

2. (U) DAUSTR Bell focused on ASEAN-U.S. trade cooperation as well
as implementation of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
during his initial visit to Singapore September 11-12. In addition
to his discussions with GOS officials from the Ministry for Trade
and Industry (MTI), the Ministry for Environment and Water Resources
(MEWR), the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), and the Energy
Market Authority (EMA), he also met with Verizon Business, Island
Power (Intergen), Citibank, Hewlett Packard, United Parcel Service,
the Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (SAPI), the
American Chamber of Commerce, and representatives from intellectual
property business associations. His discussions about the FTA are
reported septel.

Towards ASEAN Economic Integration
----------------------------------

3. (SBU) Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Senior Deputy
Director (Trade Division - ASEAN and SEOM) Sulaimah Mahmood told
DAUSTR Bell that ASEAN countries are on track after recent meetings
in Manila to achieve stated trade-related objectives in time for the
November Summit in Singapore. Now that the ASEAN Economic Ministers
(AEM) had endorsed the Economic Community blueprint for 2015, ASEAN
needs to focus on the four "pillars" that call on members to develop
a single market, increase competitiveness, enhance technical
awareness and capacity building, and pursue further trade
liberalization with ASEAN partners through FTAs and TIFAs.

4. (SBU) Mahmood noted that the Leaders' Declaration at the
November Summit will be legally binding and include timelines and
priority areas for 2008-2015. In addition to an Action Plan, ASEAN
is considering the use of quarterly updates or "scorecards" to flag
areas of difficulty that certain countries might encounter in
implementing their trade-related commitments. An enhanced trade
dispute resolution mechanism, adopted last year, will help "enforce"
the agenda for economic integration, she claimed.

Next Steps for the ASEAN-U.S. TIFA
----------------------------------

5. (SBU) On new initiatives under the ASEAN-U.S. Trade and
Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA), Mahmood expressed her hope
that USTR would conduct an Investment Survey similar to the kind it
had compiled to prepare for implementation of the ASEAN Single
Window customs initiative. DAUSTR Bell suggested that an Investment
Survey might be an excellent initiative for the TIFA Business
Roundtable to work and report on. Mahmood expressed interest in
this approach. She also asked USTR to facilitate capacity building
to improve ASEAN's awareness about IPR protection and competition
policy. DAUSTR Bell said that USTR is willing to consider these
proposals.

6. (SBU) In response to USTR's desire to begin work on services
liberalization, MTI Deputy Director (Trade Division - ASEAN) Venetta
Miranda reiterated concerns conveyed to AUSTR Weisel during her May
2007 visit to Singapore that a services liberalization agenda might
be too ambitious for some ASEAN members; they are already operating
under a tight deadline to develop a list of targeted barriers before
November 2009, she said. Senior Deputy Director Mahmood requested
more details about the services sectors USTR thinks should be
involved and expressed interest in USTR's help to conduct an
"inventory" of services barriers as a way to build capacity in this
area.

SINGAPORE 00001828 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) DAUSTR Bell noted that that USTR wants to conclude a work
plan with ASEAN's TIFA Council. USTR Schwab's intention to visit
Singapore during the November ASEAN Summit offered a good
opportunity to set a date for the first TIFA Council meeting and
obtain Ministerial agreement on the work plan, he said. Senior
Deputy Director Mahmood thought that timing might be too ambitious
but acknowledged the need for a work plan; she suggested that late
November might work. Mahmood noted that, as both sides develop a
TIFA work plan, they should think about deliverables for the planned
U.S.- ASEAN 30th Anniversary Summit Dialogue to be hosted by
President Bush in Texas.

Multi-Chip Integrated Circuit Agreement
---------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Mahmood said that Singapore is still considering our
request that it join the Multi-Chip Integrated Circuit Agreement.
She cautioned that Singapore's participation could be complicated by
the lack of other ASEAN signatories. DAUSTR Bell noted that we are
approaching this as an ASEAN-wide effort and that we would like to
pursue it under the TIFA.

9. (U) DAUSTR Bell cleared this message.

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