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Cablegate: Environmental Activists Target Copenhagen (Economic Week In

VZCZCXRO6072
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #1319/01 3490535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150535Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6205
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 001319

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN SENV SCOM PGOV LE
SUBJECT: ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS TARGET COPENHAGEN (ECONOMIC WEEK IN
REVIEW, DECEMBER 7-13, 2009)

REF: BEIRUT 1298

CONTENTS
--------

-- ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS ISSUE "BEIRUT CALL TO COPENHAGEN"
-- SALAMEH: NEW GOVERNMENT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REFORM
-- CENTRAL BANK TO ROLL OVER CDS
-- BANKING MOU WITH THE UAE
-- TRA ISSUES THREE NEW INTERNET LICENSES

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS ISSUE
BEIRUT CALL TO COPENHAGEN
-----------------------------

1. (SBU) A group of Lebanese parliamentarians, Lebanese NGOs, and
the local UNDP office issued the "Beirut call to Copenhagen" calling
on world leaders to approve an "ambitious, binding and fair
agreement in Copenhagen" to face the dangers of climate change
(reftel). The head of local environment NGO IndyAct, Wael Hmaidan,
said there has recently been increased focus on environmental issues
in Lebanon, as highlighted by the establishment of a GOL steering
committee to coordinate the issues of climate change and
desertification. IndyAct is leading a delegation of 43 people to
the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen. The
delegation includes activists, experts and media and will push to
improve and solidify the Arab regional position regarding climate
change.

2. (SBU) Lebanon will not play a strong role during COP15
negotiations and lacks a detailed position on climate change,
according to Hmaidan. Currently, Lebanon's policy is based on
IndyAct's position, and stronger environmental commitment will only
come with political will at the level of the prime minister, he
said. Lebanon has a national interest in staying close to the
position of small island nations and away from that of the G-77 and
oil-exporting countries, he explained, so it can be helpful to the
USG in moving the Arab position away from the interests of
oil-exporting countries.

SALAMEH: NEW GOVERNMENT AN
OPPORTUNITY FOR REFORM
--------------------------

3. (SBU) The newly formed national unity government is a unique
opportunity that Lebanon should exploit to reform its economy,
Central Bank of Lebanon (CBL) Governor Riad Salameh said during a
dinner hosted by economic associations December 7. Lebanon was not
affected by the international recession, Salameh said, and the
slowdown in some sectors was compensated by remarkable growth in the
tourism sector. Growth expectations for 2009 increased from 4% to
7%, and GDP is expected to reach $32.7 billion, he said. Earlier
this month, Salameh claimed that Lebanon would not be affected by
the financial crisis hitting Dubai, although other economists
doubted Lebanon's insulation given its open economy and strong links
with the Gulf region.

CENTRAL BANK TO ROLL OVER CDS
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) Salameh indicated the CBL may issue certificates of deposit
(CDs) for seven to ten years to contain liquidity in the banking
sector. CBL head of financial operations Dr. Youssef El Khalil told
us the CBL is considering the possibility of rolling over about $2.3
billion worth of 5-year Lebanese pound-denominated CDs that will
mature next year. (Note: The CBL issued these CDs following the
assassination of PM Rafiq Hariri in February 2005 to discourage
capital outflows and maintain currency stability. End note.) The
CBL wishes to capitalize on increased interest in Lebanese financial
paper from domestic and foreign investors to obtain lower interest
rates.

BANKING MOU WITH THE UAE
------------------------

5. (U) Lebanon's Banking Control Commission (BCC) signed an MOU with
the United Arab Emirates'(UAE) Securities and Commodities Authority
(SCA) to promote cooperation and the exchange of information in the
areas of financial legislation, licensing, supervision of
institutions, and financial investigations. Abdullah Al-Turaifi,
SCA's chief executive officer noted the MOU institutionalized the
already existing cooperation between the two countries and would
lead to more activity in the future, including the adoption of
stringent supervisory and monitoring measures to ensure financial
stability. The agreement will encourage Lebanese firms to list on
the UAE stock markets and vice versa.


BEIRUT 00001319 002 OF 002


TRA ISSUES THREE
NEW INTERNET LICENSES
---------------------

6. (SBU) The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) granted
interim licenses to three local companies to operate their own
networks to provide broadband data and internet services. This
decision raised to 24 the number of private licensed service
providers with their own networks, of which seven have assigned
frequencies, TRA Chairman Dr. Kamal Shehadi told us. He noted that
this represents a business opportunity for U.S. technology.

7. (SBU) Shehadi explained that all the internet licenses are
interim licenses, as TRA is waiting for the Telecommunications
Minister to send the licensing arrangement to the State Council for
review and approval. Once the arrangement is approved, he said, TRA
will issue long-term licenses.

DAUGHTON

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