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Cablegate: Argentina: Chairman Peterson's Meeting with Agriculture

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2304/01 3401714
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061714Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9855
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6719
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6606
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1613
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0933
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6921
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002304

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD ENRG PREL OVIP AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: CHAIRMAN PETERSON'S MEETING WITH AGRICULTURE
SECRETARY DE URQUIZA

SIPDIS

1. Summary: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson, in
Buenos Aires as a member of Representative Loretta Sanchez's CODEL,
held separate meetings with GOA officials and Argentine legislators
to discuss potential cooperation in biofuels, raise an IPR-related
trade issue with Monsanto soybean seeds, and review the access of
beef and other products to the countries' respective markets. The
meetings were constructive and helpful in laying out several paths
for working through existing problems as well as for identifying
areas for further U.S.-Argentine collaboration on bios fuels and in
agricultural research and development. End Summary.

Secretary De Urquiza - Biofuels

SIPDIS
----------------------

2. House Agriculture Chairman Colin Peterson and Representative
Roscoe Bartlett, in Buenos Aires November 20-21 as members of
Representative Loretta Sanchez's HASC CODEL (septels), held a
separate meeting with Argentine Agriculture Secretary Dr. Javier De
Urquiza. Representatives Peterson and Bartlett were accompanied by
Ambassador and AgCouns. Rep. Peterson noted that the normal focus
on trade disputes has tended to distract from the potential for
cooperation in agriculture. He said that biofuels is an area where
there is particular potential to work together to the benefit of
both countries. Secretary De Urquiza emphasized that Argentina is
interested in working with the U.S., and that biofuels is an area
that they are in the process of developing. In particular, they are
working to develop small production plants owned by producers in the
corn production areas. Rep. Peterson explained that this is an area
where the U.S. has particular expertise and offered to facilitate
contacts with the U.S. private sector. Rep. Bartlett raised during
the discussion questions about the long-term sustainability of
increased biofuels production. Secretary De Urquiza explained that
sustainability is one of the criteria they are focusing on as they
develop biofuels and that they are looking at new products to use
for biofuels production that go beyond soybean oil and corn.

Monsanto Roundup Ready Soybeans
----------------------

3. Rep. Peterson also asked Secretary De Urquiza about the status
of ongoing trade issues, including the payment of royalties for
soybean seeds used with technology owned by Monsanto (roundup ready
soybeans). The Secretary responded that they are currently dealing
with the lawsuits that Monsanto brought in Europe against exports of
soybean products using roundup ready soybeans, but that they are
seeking a solution. They are aware that there are loopholes in the
current law and are consulting with the technology companies, seed
producers and users to develop a new law to deal with this issue.
They want to ensure that companies do research and development in
Argentina.

Beef Imports
---------------

4. Rep. Peterson raised the issue of access for U.S. beef to
Argentina, which is not currently allowed due to BSE-related
restrictions. The Secretary responded by noting that Argentina is
also looking to export fresh beef to the U.S. and would like to see
the current Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) related restrictions
removed. Secretary De Urquiza noted that Argentina is not likely to
greatly increase its exports to the U.S. (they currently restricting
beef exports), nor is the U.S. likely to be a major exporter of beef
to Argentina. Both sides need to find a way to open their markets
to get this issue behind us.

Argentine Lemons
----------------------

5. Secretary De Urquiza inquired about the status of exporting
lemons to the U.S., an issue that was discussed with Rep. Peterson
during a previous visit. De Urquiza claimed that there were no
solid scientific reasons for the current restriction and that
Argentina would be shipping during the U.S. off season. Rep.
Peterson responded that he had looked at this issue, but any
resolution appeared to be very complicated. Direct contacts between
producers in both countries could help to facilitate a solution,
since there is potential for cooperation in areas such as scientific
investigation. Ambassador Wayne noted that the Governor of Florida
had recently visited Argentina and may return with a delegation that
could include citrus producers.

Agriculture Committee Chair Ana Maria Berraute
--------------------------------

6. On November 21, Rep. Peterson and AgCouns met with his
counterpart Representative Ana Maria Berraute, Chair of the
Agriculture and Livestock Committee in the Argentine lower house
(Camera de Diputados). The two legislators discussed the status of
the U.S. Farm Bill legislation, development of the biofuels sector
in Argentina, expectations for the political horizon in Argentina,
and the status of a proposed biotech seed law related to Roundup
Ready soybeans and corn. With respect to development of a
corn-ethanol industry in Argentina, Rep. Peterson shared his view
that it is important to create tax incentives and other supports to
jump-start the industry. Berraute said the only legislation in
Argentina so far is the biofuels law, and that biofuels development
is occurring mainly in the biodiesel sector. Rep. Peterson asked
whether Ms. Berraute has been working on the proposed seed law. She
said that she read in the newspaper that Secretary De Urquiza is
working on something, but there had not been any bill officially
presented to the House. She doubted that any advancement would be
made on the bill until President-Elect Christina Kirchner takes
office on December 10. Berraute also noted that she was not sure
whether she will remain as the head of the Agriculture Committee.

7. Comment: Post appreciates Representative Peterson's good
dialogue with Argentine interlocutors and very much welcomes similar
future visits.

8. Rep. Peterson did not have the opportunity to clear on this
message before departure from Buenos Aires.

KELLY

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