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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Cooperation, Trade with Ag Minister

VZCZCXRO7673
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1456/01 2101338
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281338Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3481
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9657
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001456

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO USTR-AGAMA
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS, 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS
USDA/FAS FOR CHAUDRY, ADAMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ENRG ECON SENV NI
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES COOPERATION, TRADE WITH AG MINISTER

1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador and Agriculture Minister agreed to
create an Agriculture Working Group under the U.S.-Nigeria Framework
for Partnership as a way to better engage with the Agricultural
Ministry in a meeting in Abuja June 24. The Ministry is moving to
implement robust plans for agriculture and agri-business and
welcomes stronger engagement with the USG. Minister Ruma agreed to
work to fashion a transition plan to move away from high tariffs and
existing numerous import bans. The Ministry is also looking to
boost AGOA export. End summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador, Ag Attach, Acting USAID Mission Director and
Econ Counselor met with Minister Siyyadi Ruma, Federal Minister of
Agriculture and Water Resources, in Abuja on June 24. The meeting
was also attended by Permanent Secretary Professor A.O. Afolabi and
the Executive Director of the National Food Reserve Agency. The
purpose of the meeting was to express U.S. concern about the GON's
continued high commodity tariffs, and note that we hope the
temporary removal of the Rice tariff was a sign of things to come.
Removal of all import bans and lowering of tariffs helps with
advancement of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)
and adoption of a bilateral investment treaty. The meeting also
touched on engagement on water and sanitation issues, and the need
to take more advantage of AGOA.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador thanked the Minister for taking time from
the Emergency Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture which
he was hosting (see paragraph 9 for more details). The Minister
expressed interest in both the Framework for Partnership Working
Group on Agriculture and the TIFA process. He also described his
efforts to strengthen Nigeria's National Food Security Program in
the face of increasing global food prices.

4. (U) Referring to his efforts to carry out the food security
program and the opportunity to strengthen cooperation with the U.S.
Mission, Minister Ruma said he was grateful for the USG's support
and close collaboration on agriculture and welcomed mechanisms to
deepen that relationship under the Framework for Partnership and
have a working group to move bilateral agricultural issues forward.
He said Nigeria needs to embrace and adapt technology advances in
order to achieve real development progress on agriculture. He added
that his country needed to learn a lot from developed countries,
particularly from the United States. He expressed his desire to
visit the United States to acquaint himself with U.S. agriculture,
deepen bilateral collaboration on agriculture and seek U.S. private
sector investment. The Ambassador welcomed the gesture and FAS
Attach noted that September 2008 could serve as a potential
timeframe for the minister's visit.

5. (U) Ambassador and Minister Ruma agreed that to address key
bilateral issues the Agriculture Working Group could have subgroups
focused on: productivity enhancement, agricultural biotechnologies,
commodities, and value chain strengthening. The Foreign Agriculture
Service and the Ag Ministry would co-chair the Group, with U.S. AID
acting as Coordinator.

6. (SBU) The Ambassador pointed out that Nigeria continues to
maintain import bans on a number of agricultural products and
commodities and that doing so discourages trade and investment. The
Minister acknowledged this fact but seemed surprised by the long
list of banned items highlighted by the FAS Attach in the meeting.
He welcomed a dialogue with us on this issue through the
Agricultural Working Group and the related Trade and Investment
Group focused on similar issues with the Ministry of Commerce and
Industry.

7. (U) Ambassador raised the possibility of USG and GON water and
sanitation experts meeting on the margins of the African Union
meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh. Ruma undertook to have his Minister of
State, Chief Ademola Seraki, meet with members of the U.S.
delegation on the margins of the Sharm El-Sheikh AU meeting.

8. (U) Ag Ministry PermSec brought department and agency heads to
the Embassy July 7 for a meeting with Acting AID Mission Director,
Econ Counselor, and Acting FAS Attach (participating by
teleconference from Lagos) to kick off the Working Group. It was
also agreed that the Ag Ministry would join the African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) Working Group recently established with the
Ministry of Commerce and Industry to join efforts to increase
non-oil AGOA experts.

9. (U) The bilateral meeting took place during a break in the
Emergency Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture hosted by
Ruma to consider the Draft National Food Security Program.
Department heads, universities of agriculture, State Commissioners

ABUJA 00001456 002 OF 002


of Agriculture, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, private
sector and international development partners were attending the
meeting. The proposed food security program offers modifications to
existing programs and allocates additional federal and state
funding. Components of the food security program include land
management, public-private sector participation, infrastructure
development such as dams and irrigation systems, agricultural
mechanization program, extension support programs, integrated
livestock development program, food reserve and storage, agro
processing and marketing, guaranteed minimum price (new domestic
support program), agricultural research and development and
agricultural commercialization.

SANDERS

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