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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03LAGOS185 2003-01-25 12:33:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

MEETING WITH ADDITIONAL SECRETARY (WTO) MENON

Tags:   ETRD ECON EINV EAGR IN 
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1. (U) ECON M/C CALLED ON COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY MINISTRY
ADDITIONAL SECRETARY S.N. MENON ON JANUARY 21. MENON IS THE
SENIOR-MOST OFFICIAL AT THE MINISTRY WITH RESPONSIBILITIES
FOR WTO AND THE EU. ECON M/C REVIEWED A NUMBER OF ISSUES
WITH MENON INCLUDING: OUR WTO AGRICULTURAL AND EXPORT CREDIT
PROPOSALS, THE US TRIPS MORATORIUM PROPOSAL, WTO
CONSULTATIONS ON EU BIOTECH MORATORIUM, AND PROSPECTS FOR
ACTING COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER SHOURIE AND AMBASSADOR
ZOELLICK TO MEET IN THE COMING WEEKS.


WTO AGRICULTURAL NEGOTIATIONS


--------------------------






2. (SBU) ECON M/C BRIEFED MENON ON KEY POINTS OF THE US
EXPORT CREDITS PROPOSAL AND OUR CRITIQUE OF THE EC'S
AGRICULTURAL PROPOSAL. ALTHOUGH EVINCING FAMILIARITY WITH
THE US AND EC POSITIONS ON AGRICULTURE, MENON EXPRESSED
APPRECIATION FOR THE OVERVIEW AND RELATED NON-PAPERS, BOTH OF
WHICH HE SAID THEY WOULD STUDY CLOSELY.




3. (SBU) MENON NOTED THAT INDIA'S POSITION ON AGRICULTURE, A
FORMAL SUBMISSION OF WHICH WILL BE MADE IN GENEVA ON FEBRUARY
22, PROVIDES FOR LITTLE FLEXIBILITY WITH RESPECT TO MARKET
ACCESS. INDIA WILL LOOK FOR URUGUAY ROUND-LEVEL REDUCTIONS
ONLY AND WILL INSIST ON SPECIAL AND DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT,
INCLUDING SPECIAL SAFEGUARDS AND PROTECTIONS UNDER THE "FOOD
SECURITY" BOX. HE SAID THAT INDIAN POLITICIANS AND DOMESTIC
FARM GROUPS ARE FIRM ON THIS POINT. THE GOI WILL "DIG-IN AND
STAND" ON THIS ISSUE AS NECESSARY, HE ADDED. REINFORCING THE
POINT, MENON CITED A GOI INTERNAL STUDY THAT SHOWS THAT 165
MILLION INDIANS AND THEIR LIVELIHOODS ARE COMPLETELY
DEPENDENT ON 33 "SENSITIVE" CROPS. MENON THOUGHT IT UNLIKELY
THERE WOULD BE MEANINGFUL REDUCTIONS OF INDIAN AGRICULTURAL
TARIFFS OVER THE NEXT DECADE. BEFORE INDIA COULD EVEN
CONSIDER THE KINDS OF AGRICULTURAL SECTOR REFORMS
CONTEMPLATED BY THE US (AND EVEN THE EC), INDIA WOULD NEED TO
KNOW "ACTUAL REDUCTIONS" BY THE US AND EU OF EXPORT
SUBSIDIES, DOMESTIC SUPPORTS, AND TARIFFS. HE ADDED THAT
INDIA DOES NOT WANT AN OVERLY AMBITIOUS AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM
IN THE DOHA ROUND AND IS FEARFUL THAT THE US AND EC WILL CUT
A DEAL AT THE END THAT LEAVES OTHERS LEFT OUT AND
DISADVANTAGED.




4. (SBU) MENON NOTED THAT INDIAN AGRICULTURAL MINISTER AJIT
SINGH IS CURRENTLY IN GENEVA FOR DISCUSSIONS. SINGH WILL
ALSO BE TRAVELING TO TOKYO FOR THE WTO MINI-MINISTERIAL O/A
FEBRUARY 14-15.


TRIPS MORATORIUM


--------------------------






5. (SBU) MENON CONFIRMED THAT THEY HAD RECEIVED AND STUDIED
USTR'S PROPOSAL FOR A TRIPS MORATORIUM AND CONCLUDED THAT
THEY COULD NOT SUPPORT OUR INITIATIVE AS IT WAS "NOT ENOUGH"
TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM. MENON SUGGESTED THAT FURTHER THOUGHT
BE GIVEN TO FINDING A CREATIVE SOLUTION TO BREAK THE IMPASSE.
HE INDICATED THAT THEY ARE PREPARED TO EXPLORE WAYS OF
ACCOMPLISHING THIS WITH USDEL AND OTHERS IN GENEVA. ECON M/C
URGED MENON TO BE FORTHCOMING WITH ANY CONSTRUCTIVE IDEAS
THEY MIGHT HAVE.


EU BIOTECH MORATORIUM


--------------------------






6. (SBU) IN RESPONSE TO ECON M/C'S PRESENTATION, MENON
INDICATED THAT THE GOI SHOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM, IN PRINCIPLE,
IN SUPPORTING AND/OR JOINING WITH US AND OTHERS FOR
CONSULTATIONS IN THE WTO ON THE EU'S MORATORIUM ON APPROVALS
FOR BIOTECH AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS. MENON SAID HE WOULD HAVE
TO CONFIRM THIS WITH THE ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY, WHICH HAS THE
LEAD WITHIN THE GOI ON BIOTECH ISSUES, AND WITH THEIR
AMBASSADOR TO THE WTO IN GENEVA, AND WOULD GET BACK TO US
WITHIN A WEEK.


ZOELLICK-SHOURIE MEETING?


--------------------------






7. (SBU) MENON REITERATED THE MINISTRY'S INTEREST IN
SCHEDULING A MEETING BETWEEN ACTING-COMMERCE MINISTER SHOURIE
AND USTR ZOELLICK ON THE MARGINS OF THE TOKYO WTO
MINI-MINISTERIAL, FEBRUARY 14-15. ECON M/C SAID HE WOULD
SHARE THIS WITH USTR, WHICH IS ALREADY AWARE OF THE REQUEST.




8. (SBU) SEPARATELY, MENON ADVISED THAT AN INVITATION WAS
EXTENDED TO USTR ZOELLICK AND EU COMMISSIONER LAMY ON JANUARY
20 TO ATTEND A GATHERING OF 15 OR SO KEY COMMONWEALTH TRADE
MINISTERS IN NEW DELHI, MARCH 15-16. MENON SAID THE MEETING
IS NOT A "WTO MINI-MINISTERIAL, AS ERRONEOUSLY DESCRIBED IN
THE INDIAN PRESS ON JANUARY 21, BUT INSTEAD AN OPPORTUNITY
FOR QUALITY INTERACTION BETWEEN KEY DOHA ROUND PLAYERS. MENON
IS PROVIDING POST A COPY OF THE JOINT GOI/CONFEDERATION OF
INDIAN INDUSTRY (CII) INVITATION WITH ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND
MATERIALS. ACCORDING TO MENON, CII'S WASHINGTON OFFICE WAS
TO HAVE SENT THE INVITATION TO USTR.




9. (C) ECON M/C APPRISED MENON OF ACTING-MINISTER SHOURIE'S
EXPRESSION OF INTEREST TO THE AMBASSADOR ON JANUARY 13 IN
POSSIBLY TRAVELING TO WASHINGTON IN THE MID-MARCH TO
EARLY-APRIL TIMEFRAME FOR SUBSTANTIVE CONSULTATIONS WITH
AMBASSADOR ZOELLICK AND SENIOR USTR STAFF (REF A). MENON
NOTED THAT THIS IDEA WAS STILL "ON" AS FAR AS HE UNDERSTOOD,
BUT WOULD, OF COURSE, BE CONTINGENT ON THE ACTING-MINISTER
CONTINUING TO HOLD THE COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO. MENON
SAID THAT WHILE IT IS PRACTICALLY CERTAIN THAT THERE WILL BE
A CABINET RESHUFFLE WITHIN THE NEXT WEEK, PREDICTIONS ABOUT
ARUN SHOURIE'S PROSPECTS IN A NEW CABINET LINEUP ARE PURE
SPECULATION AT THIS POINT. MENON THOUGHT THERE WAS A
REASONABLE CHANCE THAT SHOURIE WOULD STAY ON AS COMMERCE
MINISTER (SANS THE INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO), AND RELINQUISH HIS
POSITION AS DISINVESTMENT MINISTER.


THIBAULT UNQUOTE
HINSON-JONES