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Cablegate: Senegal's Preparation for the 2008 Agoa Forum

VZCZCXRO6244
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDK #0821 1961059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141059Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0811
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHRC/USDA WASHDC
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 000821

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W AND AF/EPS
STATE PLS PASS TO USTR/CHAMILTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD SENV EAGR EINV EFIN EAID SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL'S PREPARATION FOR THE 2008 AGOA FORUM

REFS: A) STATE 58394, B) 07 DAKAR 1054

1. SUMMARY: On July 9, Senegal's Ministry of Trade Mamadou Diop
Decroix convened a stakeholder meeting to evaluate the preparations
for the GOS' participation in the July 14-16 AGOA Forum. He also
spurred a debate as to why AGOA has been a failure in Senegal.
Representatives from the private sector and a number of GOS agencies
attended, as did Econ Counselor and Econ Assistant. Unfortunately,
the main conclusion of the roundtable was to underscore Senegal's
continued lack of focus on AGOA, both in terms of expanding exports
and in not preparing properly for the Forum. We expect Minister
Diop Decroix to lead Senegal's delegation, but most of the other
participants have not yet been confirmed. Potential participants
were asking for help with visas even over the weekend. END
SUMMARY.


GOS HAS NO PROGRAM FOR AGOA
---------------------------
2. On July 9 meeting of stakeholders in preparation for the July
14-15 AGOA Forum in Washington, Senegal's Ministry of Trade Mamadou
Diop Decroix noted that the country's exports to the U.S. have not
significantly increased since 2004, and asked participants what were
the barriers to the country's taking full advantage of AGOA
preferences. He asked, "does the fault lay with the government, the
private sector, or the U.S. government?" He received no clear
response from those in attendance, which included representatives
from the private sector, the Ministry of Commerce, the customs
service, APIX (Agency for Investment and Export Promotion) and
ASEPEX (Senegalese Agency for Export Promotion), and he departed the
meeting after 15 minutes, but the acrimonious discussion continued
for another two hours.

3. The private sector, represented by Mrs. Colle Sow Ardo and Mr
Abdoulaay Diaara, expressed discouragement in accessing the American
market saying that it was too large. Supported by Mr. Ly of Apix,
Mrs. Diaara and Mr. Sow emphasized the lack of government support,
including capacity building and training in Senegal. They wondered
why the U.S. government did not support them with financing and
market access. They also expressed their displeasure that the
government had only contacted them about their requested
participation at the Forum one week ago, and had yet to offer any
financial assistance with the travel and lodging.

4. The Director General of ASAPEX, Mrs. Maimouna Savane, explained
that her agency's ability to help Senegalese exporters is being
undercut by the GOS's lack of support. She claimed that the
government had yet to pay CFA 200 million (USD 475,000), almost half
of its budget allocation for 2008. [Note: When ASEPEX was
established three years ago it took away most of the Ministry of
Commerce's export promotion budget. It is only recently that ASEPEX
has begun to offer genuine service and value to Senegalese
exporters, but the agency likely will shut down if the government
does not fulfill its budget commitment. End Note.] Despite APIX'
important role in promoting and supporting new investment in
Senegal, Mr. Ly did not know if his agency would participate in the
Forum.

COMMENT
-------
4. Much like the similar, last minute and unfocused meeting held
before last year's AGOA Forum, this "stakeholders" roundtable did
more to highlight Senegal's lack of focus on AGOA and the U.S.
market than to establish any consensus on the steps necessary to
create a more robust export capacity. Minister Diop, like his
predecessor and the Director General of APIX before him, gave the
impression that AGOA "does not offer much to Senegal." For the 2008
Forum, there is a high possibility that the Senegalese private
sector will not be represented.

SMITH

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