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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI383 2004-03-14 14:15:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT SEES U.S. BUSINESS

Tags:   PREL BEXP DJ EAGR ECON EIND SA 
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					UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000383 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/E, AF/EPS, AND EB
STATE ALSO PASS DEPT OF COMMERCE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL BEXP DJ EAGR ECON EIND SA
SUBJECT: CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT SEES U.S. BUSINESS
OPPORTUNITIES IN DJIBOUTI



1. (U) Summary: Said Omar, President of Djibouti's Chamber
of Commerce, advises U.S. business to consider investment in
Djibouti by a change in mindset. He implored U.S. companies
to think "can-do," to think about "regional" possibilities,
to consider "Doraleh's potential," and to see the potential
in "livestock," "agriculture," "computer chips," and "AGOA"
as paths to economic opportunity in Djibouti. End summary.



2. (U) In an introductory call March 10 on the President of
Djibouti's Chamber of Commerce, Said Omar, Ambassador asked
Omar what potential advice he would give to a U.S. company
interested in exploring business opportunities in Djibouti.
She explained that one of her goals in Djibouti is to promote
business opportunities and U.S. investment.



3. (U) Omar responded that he would tell the U.S. company, to
"think can-do" rather than "can't do." "Everything is
possible in Djibouti," he said. "Only, there are challenges
to achieving the possible." An American company would need
to have a great deal of patience, be able to communicate
effectively with people, and be prepared to explore with
their counterparts in Djibouti real options under difficult
circumstances.



4. (U) Omar also said a U.S. company should think
"regionally," rather than locally. The market in Djibouti is
rather small, he said, and the buying power is slim. U.S.
companies should look at investment opportunities that have
appeal across borders. Since there is much in common,
culturally, with many of the citizens of countries
surrounding Djibouti, appeals and tastes can be fairly
similar. Look for opportunities, he advised, where there is
the ability to commit resources more broadly. He noted that
most businesses in Djbouti target the huge market represented
by the sub-region of Africa and COMESA. For example,
pharmaceutical products are shipped to Djibouti but airlifted
to Ethiopia.

5.(U) Third, Omar advised that U.S. businesses think about
the potential posed by the Doraleh extension of Djibouti's
port and the transformation of port activity that the
extension will cause. Already, he said, China is exploring
setting up a free zone there to re-assemble vehicles. (Note:
Post cannot yet confirm. End note.) He said the extension
would make possibilities in the service and industrial
sectors endless.

6.(U) As a fourth point, Omar said he would advise U.S.
companies to "think livestock." He talked about the
popularity of locally-produced (Berberawi) sheep with Saudi
consumers and said Somali-origin livestock had been stopped
by Saudi Arabia, not because of fear of the outbreak of
disease in that livestock, but by concern over Somali forgery
of export certificates and documents. After Djibouti's
livestock project is complete, Omar said, (in reference to
the work USAID is doing in Djibouti),"the Chamber will invite
livestock importers from Gulf countries to convince them to
lift the ban on livestock." He said he believed many
opportunities existed in the livestock field. Admittedly,
though, it would be difficult to make local processing
profitable as most consumers regionally prefer their meat
fresh-killed.



7. (U) Fifth, Omar said he would ask U.S. companies to
"think agriculture." He stated his belief that the soil can
bear fruit in Djibouti. What is lacking, he continued, is
water. He added that the Israelis are experts in the area of
drip irrigation and perhaps that process could be tailored to
Djibouti, especially if desalination moves ahead.



8. (U) Omar said he would also encourage U.S. companies to
"think computer chips." This is an area where even
production is possible, he claimed. Omar said in passing that
he believed advantage could be taken, additionally, of the
Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to further promote
economic investment.



9. (U) Comment: Djibouti has significant infrastructure
development and human resource shortfalls that are daunting
for investors. Yet Omar has a point that the potential exists
and that creative thinking is needed to uncover opportunities
and overcome obstacles. Post will continue to explore
options to share with Washington, working with the Chamber of
Commerce, and other entities in Djibouti. End comment.
RAGSDALE