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Cablegate: Ecuador Minister States That the Goe Will Not Do Business

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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000943

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/09
TAGS: ECON EFIN EC IR PREL MNUC PARM KNNP
SUBJECT: Ecuador Minister states that the GoE will not do business
with Export Development Bank of Iran

REF: A) IRA...


id: 233955
date: 11/9/2009 20:51
refid: 09QUITO943
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09QUITO863|09QUITO869|09QUITO875
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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000943

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/09
TAGS: ECON EFIN EC IR PREL MNUC PARM KNNP
SUBJECT: Ecuador Minister states that the GoE will not do business
with Export Development Bank of Iran

REF: A) IRAN STATE 98748; B) QUITO 875
C) JOHNSTON/LANDBERG EMAIL 10/01/09; D) QUITO 863; E) QUITO 869

CLASSIFIED BY: chritton, DCM, DOS, Exec; REASON: 1.4(C), (D)

1. (C ) Summary: Ecuador's Coordinating Minister for Economic
Policy, Diego Borja, assured EconCouns November 4 that the GoE will
not maintain commercial relations with the Export Development Bank
of Iran, a USG-designated entity. Borja asked EconCouns if the USG
could provide background information on how other countries are
managing their commercial elations with Iran, so that Ecuador can
emulate others' actions and avoid violating international and U.S.
regulations. End Summary.

2. (C) On November 4, EconCouns delivered Ref A demarche to
Ecuador's Coordinating Minister for Economic Policy, Diego Borja,
highlighting the possible repercussions of doing business with
Iran's Export Development Bank (EDBI) given the U.S. Treasury's
designation of EDBI for supporting Iran's WMD program. Central
Bank of Ecuador (CBE) Managing Director Karina Saenz, Deputy
Managing Director Diego Zapater, and other CBE staff also attended
the meeting. EconCouns had delivered the same demarche to Saenz on
September 29 (Ref B), during which she recommended that Post
address the issue with Borja, an influential minister ideologically
close to President Correa, since "Ecuador's dealings with EDBI are
more geopolitical than financial." Saenz set up the meeting with
Borja after becoming concerned about the EBDI issue from meetings
with Econoffs and subsequently with Treasury Deputy Assistant
Secretary Nancy Lee on the margins of the IMF annual meetings in
Istanbul. Borja himself requested the meeting, at the last minute,
in order to obtain information on the EDBI issue prior to
participating in the GoE cabinet meeting with President Rafael
Correa on November 5.

3. (C) EconCouns emphasized to Borja exactly as presented in the
Ref A. The only deviation was to emphasize to Borja that the
demarche was focused on EDBI and the purpose of this particular
demarche was not to question Ecuador's broader relations with Iran.
(Comment: this was an area of confusion in earlier demarches, where
our MFA interlocutor reacted as if the U.S. was criticizing
Ecuador's right to establish any kind of relations with Iran.)
EconCouns explained that he had already delivered the demarche to
the Director General of the Central Bank, Ecuador's Banking
Superintendent, the Director of Multilateral Affairs at the MFA,
and the General Director of Ecuador's Financial Intelligence Unit.
He also explained that the Treasury Department had already
demarched Ecuadorian Ambassador Luis Gallegos on the EDBI issue.

4. (C) In response to the demarche, Borja said that the GoE had no
intention of supporting any entity involved in terrorism financing
or the proliferation of WMD. Furthermore, in light of the
information just provided, he stated that Ecuador could not
continue to develop a relationship with EDBI. Borja noted that
because Ecuador was a dollarized economy it needed to preserve the
integrity of the dollarized system and could not risk getting
involved with an institution (like EDBI) that would potentially
impact financial relations with the U.S.

5. (C) Borja commented that "at the highest levels" Ecuador had
made a "political decision" to explore and expand political,
economic, and commercial relations with Iran. Borja said that this
was part of Ecuador's logical effort to expand and diversify its
trading base, with the goal of reducing Ecuador's dependency on a
few markets and reducing its vulnerability to external shocks,
particularly those resonating from the U.S.


6. (C) Borja asked the other Ecuadorian officials and his staff
about the status of BCE discussions with EDBI. BCE officials
answered that beyond the initial "agreement" neither side had moved
forward with the proposal for a line of credit and EDBI had not
advanced on its plan to open a branch in Ecuador. BCE Deputy
Manager Zapater noted that the BCE had already informed EDBI that
Ecuador could not move forward with any deal without clear
assurances that EDBI was not involved in terrorist financing or
weapons of mass destruction activities. When Borja asked why
Ecuador was dealing with EDBI, CBE explained that Iran had proposed
working through that organization.

7. (C) Borja asked the CBE officials how other countries around the
world maintained commercial relations with Iran without running
into the problems Ecuador was now facing. They responded that
Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, and many European countries
all maintain some level of commercial relations with Iran. Borja
postulated that there must be some way for Ecuador to deal with
Iran without going through a U.S.- designated entity. Borja then
asked EconCouns for any information that the USG could provide on
how other countries manage their relations with Iran without
violating UN, FATF, and U.S. resolutions and laws.

8. (C) During the meeting, BCE Managing Director Saenz highlighted
her concern over the EBDI issue in front of Borja, noting that even
Venezuela's Central Bank does not have any direct contact with
either EDBI or the Banco Internacional de Desarollo, CA
(International Development Bank, CA), located in Venezuela and
designated by the U.S. along with EDBI. After departing the
meeting, Saenz reiterated her concern over the EDBI issue to
EconCouns, and requested that he communicate to U.S. officials in
Washington that the BCE and GoE have no intention of having any
dealings with an entity linked to weapons of mass destruction or
terrorist financing.

9. (C) Comment: The tone of the Borja meeting was constructive and
an improvement over previous meetings with the MFA on the EBDI
issue. Also, recent attempts by the Embassy to meet with the
President of the Central Bank Board and the Ministry of Finance
have been rebuffed, leaving some question as to how willing the
upper levels of the GoE were to engage on the issue. It is unclear
whether Borja was being sincere on this issue. However, seeing as
he called for the meeting at the last minute, it seems possible
that he will communicate the EDBI issue to President Correa. For
her part, Saenz appears sincere in her concern over BCE involvement
with EDBI. End Comment.
CHRITTON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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