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Cablegate: Nigeria: Trade Ministry Pushing for Tifa Asap

VZCZCXRO9849
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2223/01 3181054
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131054Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4429
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 0248
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002223

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO USTR-AGAMA AND GARDE
TREASURY FOR PETERS, IERONIMO AND HALL
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OTA/OA/BURRESS AND
3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/HARRIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON KIPR EINV EAID PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: TRADE MINISTRY PUSHING FOR TIFA ASAP

REF: A. ABUJA 2177
B. ABUJA 2146
C. ABUJA 1925

1. (SBU) Summary. During a November 6, 2008 meeting with the
Nigerian Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) Permanent Secretary
Elizabeth Emuren, she said the Government of Nigeria (GON) is eager
to participate in the next Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
(TIFA) Council Meeting and proposed the next TIFA in November or
December 2008 in Washington, DC. MCI has not discussed the TIFA
Council Meeting with other ministries and agencies and will hold an
interagency session on November 12. There has been some progress on
eliminating import bans (banned products dropped from 44 to 26 -
reftel C) and harmonizing import tariffs with her West African
neighbors under the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET). However, it is unclear
whether substantive discussions can take place at the TIFA to move
forward the USG agenda. MCI also requested that a team from the USG
come to Nigeria to hold African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
workshops in Kano and Lagos in November. End Summary.

2. (U) On November 6, 2008, EconCouns, EconDeputy, EconSpec and
USAID EconGrowthDir (Director of Economic Growth) met with Nigerian
Ministry of Commerce and Industry officials led by the Permanent
Secretary, Elizabeth Emuren, to discuss Nigeria's plans and
expectations for the next TIFA Council Meeting and to follow up on
GON positions on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT), AGOA focus
areas, and intellectual property legislation.
.
LONG SILENCE TO SUDDEN ACTION
-----------------------------
.
3. (SBU) Before the July 2008 AGOA Forum EconDeputy and MCI had
discussions regarding a TIFA Council Meeting in October, but
following the GON delegation's return to Abuja in early July, the
GON has been silent. On October 31, EconCouns and EconDeputy met
with Prince Joseph Idiong of the Nigerian Exporters Association and
he commented that MCI Trade Director Badeji Abikoye had hinted at
MCI leaning towards a TIFA Council Meeting in 2008. In the November
6 meeting, Emuren said MCI prefers a TIFA meeting before the end of
2008, rather than early 2009. If November 27 was not possible, she
recommended a TIFA during the first or second week in December.
Emuren explained that MCI has travel funds available for a trip to
Washington in 2008, and that MCI may lose these funds if not used
before 2009. She also indicated that MCI's overall budget for 2009
is uncertain.

4. (SBU) Regarding preparations for the TIFA, Emuren reported that
a meeting of all stakeholders, including the public and private
sector will be held November 12 to develop the GON's expectations
and positions for the TIFA Council. She instructed MCI officials to
provide a briefing to the Mission immediately after the meeting.
.
AGOA Focus Areas - Not Yet Set
------------------------------
.
5. (SBU) Since the December 2007 TIFA, the USG has been asking for
feedback on the GON's designation of AGOA focus areas to concentrate
USG/GON trade capacity building (TCB) assistance. On November 6,
Augustine Anumba Adigwe, Assistant Director in the Trade Department
at MCI, said that the GON has yet to determine its AGOA focus
sectors. He requested the USG send a team to hold AGOA workshops in
Kano and Lagos in November. Following these workshops, he expected
the GON to select focus sectors. COMMENT: There is a clear
disconnect between MCI and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
EconDeputy met with NEPC CEO Lawal in July and he stated
affirmatively that his agency was in charge of selecting the AGOA
focus sectors. NEPC has already held three export workshops in
October in Abia State, Lagos and Kano. The Bank of Industry has
also hosted AGOA workshops in cooperation with the U.S. Mission and
the Ambassador is attending another one on November 13 in Jalingo,
Taraba State. This stove piping within the GON remains a major
hurdle to increasing non-oil exports. END COMMENT.
.
Intellectual Property - Where is the Bill?
------------------------------------------
.
6. (SBU) The USG IP Task Force met with Hajia Jamila Ahmadu-Suka,
Registrar of Trademarks, Patent, and Designs at MCI on October 27
and requested a copy of the bill that would create an Industrial
Property Commission. Ahmadu-Suka responded that it would available
on October 31 (reftel A). On November 6 the USG team again met with
Ahmadu-Suka regarding the draft IP bill, but she said that the
acting MCI Minister has instructed her not to give the USG the bill

ABUJA 00002223 002 OF 002


until he reviews it. After he has given approval she will share it
with the Mission.
.
Bilateral Investment Treaty Still Under Review
---------------------------------------------
.
7. (SBU) When asked the status of the BIT, MCI Trade Director
Badeji Abikoye, said that GON discussion on it is led by a
ministerial committee chaired by the Chief Economic Adviser to the
President, Tanimu Yakubu, and that MCI plays an important role in
that committee. He commented that progress is unlikely until a new
MCI minister is appointed. NOTE: Minister Charles Ugwu was removed
from office in a larger cabinet reshuffle on October 29; it is not
clear when a replacement will be on seat (reftel B). The USG
provided the GON a copy of a sample BIT in November 2007 and on
subsequent occasions; however the GON has yet to provide its
observations/inputs. END NOTE.
.
Where Do We Go From Here?
-------------------------
.
8. (SBU) COMMENT: This sudden request for a TIFA Council Meeting
following Minister Ugwu's removal is motivated by budgetary
considerations and not necessarily a desire for substantive policy
discussions. The GON has been slow to make significant progress on
mutually agreed trade issues since the April 2008 TIFA digital video
conference, with the reduction in import bans the main good news.
It is unclear whether concrete progress can be achieved with the GON
during the next Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)
council meeting, considering MCI has unsettled leadership and
questionable commitment. Though slow incremental progress is
possible, it is not yet clear whether the political will exists to
achieve more significant progress. END COMMENT.

SANDERS

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