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Cablegate: Thailand: Apec Food Defense Pilot Project

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBK #3210 2981131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241131Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4821
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BANGKOK 003210

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/EP, EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PTER EAGR APEC
SUBJECT: THAILAND: APEC FOOD DEFENSE PILOT PROJECT

REF: A. E-MAIL 10/21/2008 CHEUNG/FULLERTON
B. BANGKOK 2453 (THAILAND SUPPORTS FOOD DEFENSE
INITIATIVE)
C. STATE 83232 (EXPANSION OF APEC FOOD DEFENSE
PILOT PROJECTS)
D. 06 STATE 184154 (FIRST APEC FOOD DEFENSE
WORKSHOP - BANGKOK)

1. (SBU) Embassy Bangkok believes that Thailand is a strong
candidate to host an APEC Food Defense pilot project in 2009,
per criteria provided in ref C. Our Economic Section and the
Foreign Agricultural Service reviewed Thailand's suitability
for the project and also discussed the pilot project proposal
with contacts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Ministry of Public Health.

2. (U) Within ASEAN and APEC, Thailand seeks to be regional
leader on food issues (food security, food defense, and food
safety). Thailand is a major food processor and exporter to
the world. In 2007, Thailand exported more than $27 billion
in food and agricultural products (including aquaculture and
forestry products), while importing approximately $8 billion.
The United States, Thailand's largest trading partner, is
the third largest destination for Thailand's agricultural
exports, totaling more than $3 billion. U.S. agricultural
exports to Thailand totaled $870 million in 2007, while U.S.
fish and forestry product exports totaled $98 million.

3. (SBU) Given the magnitude of Thailand's food processing
sector, the country could face significant losses if a
terrorist attack occurred within its food chain. We have a
positive and strong working relationship with Thailand on
agricultural issues, and our counterterrorism cooperation
remains robust. While technical barriers for the import of
some U.S. agricultural products exist, we would not expect
the Thai government to use the food defense initiative as a
means for erecting additional technical barriers to trade.

4. (SBU) The Thai government remains very interested in
pursuing the potential project, according to Morakot
Sriswasdi, Counselor at the Department of International
Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and
Jongkolnee Vithayarungruangsri, Director of the Food Safety
Operation Center in the Ministry of Public Health. Morakot
and Jongkolnee told Econoff on October 24 that they believed
Malaysia had already been selected for next year's pilot
project, but if Thailand is still under consideration, they
would enthusiastically support the proposal. Morakot added
that since Thailand had already hosted the 2006 Food Defense
Workshop (ref D), the Thai government would not be opposed to
supporting the project in one of its fellow ASEAN neighbors.

5. (SBU) We expect that the costs of a pilot project could
become an issue if Thailand was selected, particularly if the
project was to occur in the next calendar year. Post
understands that for the first pilot project in Peru, FAS was
able to secure P.L. 480 funding for the Peruvian Government
to fund the project. Without similar resources for Thailand,
Post believes the USG should be prepared to contribute
significantly to the cost of the pilot project if Thailand is
selected.

JOHN

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