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Cablegate: Scenesetter for U.S.-Singapore Environmental Moi

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGP #1946/01 2960826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230826Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4280
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 7552

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 001946

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR A/S MCMURRAY
BANGKOK FOR JIM WALLER
STATE PASS USTR FOR AUSTR LINSCOTT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ETRD ECON PREL SN
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR U.S.-SINGAPORE ENVIRONMENTAL MOI
REVIEW

REF: A. SINGAPORE 996 (FTA YEAR THREE REVIEW)

B. 06 SINGAPORE 1046 (UPDATED ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT)
C. SINGAPORE 1833 (USTR RAISES ILLEGAL LOGGING
INITIATIVE)

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Summary: The October 30 biennial review in
Singapore of the Memorandum of Intent on Cooperation in
Environmental Matters offers a good opportunity to move
forward our bilateral engagement on the environment under the
U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The timing is
ideal: Singapore has indicated that climate change, energy
security, and environmental protection will be major themes
at the ASEAN and East Asia Summits in November. Singapore is
making progress on environmental issues, including amendments
last year to its Endangered Species Act and related
enforcement actions. However, we remain concerned about
Singapore's reluctance to increase monitoring of transit and
transshipped cargo, which is thought to be a conduit for
illicit trade in internationally controlled items. Singapore
officials want to work with us, but remain mindful of
constraints that limit law enforcement cooperation, political
sensitivities with neighboring countries, and Singapore's
overriding interest in maintaining its competitiveness as a
trading hub. End summary.

Opportunities...
----------------

2. (SBU) We look forward to your October 29-31 visit and
encourage you to:

-- urge Singapore to inspect more transshipped and transit
cargo for CITES-related items;

-- stress the importance of regional engagement on
transnational issues such as illegal logging; and

-- highlight issues of mutual interest such as renewable
energy and water conservation.

And a pitfall...
----------------

3. (SBU) The issue of arowana "dragon fish" exports has
quieted down recently, but we expect the GOS to raise it at
least perfunctorily during the review. Arowana are listed in
CITES Appendix 1 and as an endangered species in the United
States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has
repeatedly refused to issue permits that would allow
Singapore to export arowana to the United States. However,
Singapore's tropical fish industry continues to pressure the
GOS to break through the deadlock. If raised, we recommend
you ask GOS officials speak directly to FWS (Ref A).

A Garden City
-------------

4. (SBU) Singapore is justly proud of its nickname, the
"garden city", garnered through careful long-term policy
planning and top-down direction initiated in the 1960s by
modern Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.
Industrialization and developmental goals have always taken
priority, yet the GOS has been acutely aware of the need to
maximize land use in a way that differentiates Singapore from
other major cities in the region. In spite of its highly
urbanized setting, Singapore still retains considerable
tracts of primary and secondary forests in addition numerous
parks and gardens. As the society has become more affluent,
environmental consciousness has grown. Today, Singapore's
own environmental standards are generally consistent with
those in the United States and Europe.

Water and Air
-------------

5. (SBU) Singapore depends on four "national taps" for
water: imports from Malaysia, rainfall (collected in a
sophisticated island-wide catchment system), desalinization
plants, and reclaimed water ("NEWater"). Until recently,
Singapore relied on Malaysia for fifty percent of its water
needs. However, it is attempting to lessen dependence on
imported water by managing both supply and demand (per capita
water usage has dropped over ten liters per day in the last
decade). Singapore's stringent emissions standards, coupled

with economic and investment policies that favor high-tech
over heavy industry and create economic disincentives for
private vehicle ownership, keep concentrations of major air
pollutants well below EPA and WHO standards. Although 2007
has been comparatively smog-free, Singapore has in the past
suffered from seasonal problems with smog caused by
agricultural fires in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia.
The GOS is engaging both countries and even raised the haze
problem in the United Nations in October 2006.

The Transshipment Issue
-----------------------

6. (SBU) Singapore was built on trade, and its air and
seaports remain among the busiest in the world. We are
concerned that Singapore, like many countries, does not
collect manifest data on transshipment or transit cargo
unless it is bound for the United States, e.g., under the
Container Security Initiative. The United States has long
pressed Singapore to stem illicit trade through its seaport
and airport. For just as long, Singapore has pushed back,
expressing an unwillingness to institute checks that might
interfere with the competitiveness of its ports.

7. (SBU) Singapore has recently taken steps to address some
of our concerns. In March 2006, Singapore passed a new
Endangered Species Import and Export Act and followed up with
specific enforcement actions. The Act increased fines
tenfold, doubled maximum prison sentences, augmented the
Agri-Food Veterinary Authority's (AVA) enforcement
jurisdiction to include any cargo within the Singapore Free
Trade Zone (i.e., outside of customs) and expanded the
definition of contraband items (Ref B).

Cooperation
-----------

8. (SBU) Singapore generally approaches law enforcement and
customs cooperation with caution. Engagement with U.S.
enforcement agencies, even on serious criminal cases, is good
but generally needs improvement. Singapore is protective of
its sovereignty and concerned that mandated cooperation with
the United States could spur Singapore's neighbors to demand
law enforcement "cooperation" on cases that are driven more
by domestic politics than genuine enforcement goals.
Negotiations on a mutual legal assistance treaty, necessary
to enable Singapore to share information for use in criminal
prosecutions, began in 2003. While Chapter 4 (Customs
Cooperation) of the FTA contains provisions for information
sharing, they are limited to cases involving U.S. imports
from Singapore, not trade involving third countries.
Singapore is generally willing to help when we provide
detailed intelligence about a specific shipment that violates
international treaty obligations.

Sensitivities
-------------

9. (SBU) Singapore appears committed to the work program
under the MOI, but it will be sensitive to proposals that
might seek to impose new obligations, especially those in
which it does not have a direct stake. The GOS believes that
the work program should focus on non-controversial projects
that build on shared interests. On trade in endangered
species and other products subject to multilateral control,
such as certain timber, Singapore is willing to work together
on capacity building initiatives, including workshops and
seminars. Focusing on enforcement of existing multilateral
obligations under CITES and other agreements may make it
easier to elicit Singapore's cooperation, although
sovereignty-sensitive Singapore is likely to resist tackling
what it considers enforcement problems within its neighbors'
jurisdictions.


Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
HERBOLD

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