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Cablegate: Nigerian Tifa Team Still Deliberating

VZCZCXRO9546
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2403/01 3230625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 190625Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1462
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8279
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002403

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT PASS TO USTR AGAMA
TREASURY FOR PETERS
USDOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
USDOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON EFIN EINV NI

SUBJECT: NIGERIAN TIFA TEAM STILL DELIBERATING

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY

1. Summary: Ministry of Commerce and Industry reps are looking
forward to hosting the December TIFA Council meetings. The
Ministry's budget precludes it from hosting more than one day of
meetings on December 11. The reps need more time to review the
draft schedule, agenda and work plan. Bans on agricultural products
are temporary measures. End Summary.
.
2. (U) On November 16, 2007 EconOffs and FAS Attache from Lagos met
with Augustine A. Adigwe, Assistant Director, Mary Udu-Ejembi,
Assistant Director (Bilateral), of the Department of Trade, Federal
Ministry of Commerce and Industry to discuss TIFA preparations.
.
Budget Problems Shorten Program
-------------------------------
.
3. (SBU) Adigwe commented that due to budgetary considerations the
Ministry only had funding for one-day of Council meetings and events
on December 11. He suggested the program be shortened and that all
events take place on December 11. He reported that the Ministry
planned to host the event at the Hilton hotel in Abuja; on December
12 the Minister was unavailable for meetings due to Cabinet meetings
with President Yar'adua; and the Minister was planning to invite the
Nigerian private sector to take part in the Council meetings on
December 11.

4. (SBU) Adigwe agreed that the TIFA talks and AGOA discussions
should be held at the same time on December 11. Adigwe asked for
additional time to review the agenda and schedule for the AGOA
program, Council meeting agenda and work plan. Econoff and Adigwe
agreed to discuss by phone the following week and to meet on
November 23 for further clarification.

5. (SBU) Econoff asked if an IPR program was of interest and Adigwe
said yes and that it should be held on December 11, unless the USG
planned to fund it and procure a site. Regarding a planned site
visit on December 13 with an AGOA exporter, Adigwe said Ministry
officials would welcome the opportunity to take part in the visit.
Adigwe asked that USAID provide information on the name and location
of the exporter.
.
Banned Agricultural Products
----------------------------
.
6. (SBU) FAS Attache briefed them on the existing bans and
restrictions on many American agricultural products. He noted that
outright bans on products are inconsistent with Nigeria's WTO
commitments. Adigwe's responded that this was an issue that would
be addressed. He reported that an Asian country has reported to the
WTO a complaint on Nigeria's ban on rice. He stressed that the GON
would address these issues and that they were temporary measures.

7. (SBU) Comment: The Ministry's Director for External Trade told
Econ Counselor November 9 that he and Minister Ugwu were fighting a
rear-guard action to roll back Nigeria's import bans. The Director
said that he and the Minister considered the bans to be injurious to
Nigeria's economic development, as well as in conflict with WTO
rules. The problem the Ministry was facing, he said, was that
traditionally Nigerian producers and manufacturers had bypassed the
Ministry and gone to the Presidency to get protectionist import bans
in place.

8. (SBU) Comment continued: A further complication was that the
Ministry of Finance opposed lowering or eliminating tariffs in
general, because customs duties contribute to government revenues.
(Note: Obviously, import bans do not/not produce any legal
contributions to public revenues though smuggling to get around bans
may be benefiting some Customs officials personally. End note).
The Director said he and Minister Ugwu were making the argument
internally that a more rationale customs regime would benefit
government revenues more broadly through stronger economic growth
(Note: Using bans to artificially constrain supplies also leads to
higher prices at a time that Nigeria's president has publicly
declared keeping inflation down to the single digits a national
priority. End note).

9. (SBU) Comment continued: It certainly appears that the Ministry
is open to the possibility of rolling back one or more import bans
in the short-term. Embassy believes that should be a key goal of
next month's TIFA Council. It may be wiser to set the rollback
precedent with one or two of the more compelling cases, e.g. corn,
than to seek a commitment to roll back all the bans at the Council.

ABUJA 00002403 002 OF 002


End comment.

PIASCIK

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