This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
070121Z Feb 05
UNCLAS ALMATY 000428
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CACEN JMUDGE, EUR/ACE JMCKANE TREASURY FOR CENTRAL ASIA DESK OFFICER MGAERTNER COMMERCE FOR CENTRAL ASIA DESK OFFICER DSTARKS DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USTR KKUHLMANN
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ECON EFIN PGOV KZ ECONOMIC SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: DAS KENNEDY'S MEETING WITH DPM AND TRADE MINISTER MYNBAYEV
REFTEL: ALMATY 304
1. (SBU) This cable contains an action request for USTR, para. 10.
2. (U) Summary: EUR DAS Laura Kennedy and Ambassador Ordway called on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Sauat Mynbayev February 3 in Astana. They discussed Jackson-Vanik, WTO accession, the Minister's prospective attendance at the inaugural TIFA Council meeting, and his trip to San Diego for the Kazakhstan Investment Conference. Mynbayev expressed interest in combining his San Diego trip with WTO consultations. DAS Kennedy and the Ambassador also raised the issue of AIG's attempts to obtain payment of a $10 million arbitral award originating in a 1998 expropriation. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aleksey Volkov also attended. End summary.
3. (SBU) Mynbayev and DAS Kennedy briefly discussed Kazakhstan's prospects for graduation from Jackson-Vanik treatment. DAS Kennedy emphasized the Administration's position that extraneous linkages and conditions should not influence the application of the Jackson-Vanik law, but the ultimate decision is for the Congress. She also told Mynbayev that sustained progress on WTO accession would bolster Kazakhstan's case for graduation.
4. (SBU) Mynbayev shared his views on the WTO accession state of play. He expressed satisfaction that the last Working Party meeting resulted in the transformation of Kazakhstan's factual summary into draft a draft working party report that would form the basis for discussion of Kazakhstan's commitment. Regarding Kazakhstan's offer on goods, he opined that Kazakhstan had liberalized enough. Turning to agriculture, he acknowledged that the level of support Kazakhstan would be allowed after accession was still a contentious issue. He cited this as a major issue in negotiations with the Europeans, but said that a basic consensus existed within the CIS. (Note: Mynbayev did not specify whether he was referring to CIS countries that are already in WTO, other aspirant countries or both. End note.) He also said that Kazakhstan was progressing toward agreement with Europe on labor migration issues. However, he also stated unequivocally that the U.S. is the key partner in the accession negotiations.
5. (SBU) In response to DAS Kennedy's mention of intellectual property rights (IPR), Mynbayev acknowledged the urgency of the issue. He felt that Kazakhstan had made sufficient improvements to its legislation. However, he admitted that there are still problems with how the IPR laws are applied, because practitioners and stakeholders do not yet understand the changes.
San Diego Travel, TIFA
6. (U) DAS Kennedy also asked Mynbayev about his planned trip to San Diego for the March 12 "Kazakhstan Investors' Conference." Mynbayev said that the conference would be similar to events the GOK has sponsored in other countries to promote its Innovative-Industrial Strategy and encourage investment outside of the oil sector, especially in processing industries. Mynbayev told DAS Kennedy that he hopes to schedule consultations on WTO accession while he is in the United States. Separately, he confirmed that Minister of Economy and Budget Planning Kairat Kelimbetov (who has no role in the WTO accession negotiations) will represent Kazakhstan at the upcoming World Bank meetings in Washington.
7. (SBU) DAS Kennedy also expressed the hope that Mynbayev would be able to attend the inaugural TIFA Council in April.
Mynbayev was noncommittal. Asked if Kazakhstan was considering any specific proposals, Mynbayev responded that Kazakhstan was concerned with "systematic" questions and noted how different Kazakhstan's level of development is from that of its neighbors. DAS Kennedy observed that Kazakhstan's leading position among Central Asia's economies causes the U.S. to value highly Kazakhstan's contributions and leadership in the TIFA consultations.
8. (SBU) Finally, DAS Kennedy raised the issue of AIG's attempts to collect the $10 million it was awarded in arbitration by the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). (Background: AIG received a favorable ruling from ICSID in a case arising from the 1998 expropriation of an AIG subsidiary's interest in an Almaty real estate project. Having made no progress in having the ruling honored, AIG convinced a British court to issue a third-party debt order on the assets of the GOK National Fund in the UK. Kazakhstan will challenge the order in a hearing in London in July. End Background.)
9. (SBU) Mynbayev did not seem familiar with the case. He offered the opinion that if the issue was one of real estate, then the Almaty city government (which has oblast status) would actually be the liable party. DFM Volkov was familiar with the original dispute, but indicated that he was not familiar with the arbitration award. The Ambassador told Mynbayev that the issue at hand is broader than the $10 million. He pointed out that if the GOK continues in the British courts and loses, then the precedent that the National Fund does not benefit from sovereign immunity would be disastrous for Kazakhstan. However, if Kazakhstan paid the arbitration award voluntarily, that question would be moot. He further pointed out that if AIG's quest for payment became a protracted, public struggle, it could negatively affect the "investment-grade" sovereign credit rating the GOK has worked assiduously to build. It would also affect the overall investment climate negatively at a time when the country is trying to attract foreign investments to sectors other than oil.
10. (SBU) Mynbayev's response was noncommittal, although he (and particularly DFM Volkov) clearly received the U.S. message of concern. DAS Kennedy told them she would also pursue the matter with the Minister of Justice and the Foreign Minister.
11. (SBU) Mynbayev was far more talkative and animated in this meeting than his previous one with the Ambassador (reftel), and he went into considerably more detail on the WTO state of play. We recommend that USTR try to accommodate Mynbayev's travel to the U.S. and schedule appropriate consultations. With respect to AIG, Mynbayev seemed to take U.S. concerns on board, but offered little response. However, his unfamiliarity with the case may be understandable considering that he was not among the officials AIG contacted in its attempts to settle the dispute. We are hopeful that DAS Kennedy and Ambassador Ordway's stark presentation of the stakes in this meeting was a good start to bringing the GOK around to the conclusion that ignoring AIG is simply not in the country's long-term interest.
12. (U) DAS Kennedy did not have the opportunity to clear this cable before departing post.