2005-03-11 19:07:00
Embassy Bogota
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 002367 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/11/2015

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 002367



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/11/2015

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary. During a March 9 meeting with the
Ambassador, Trade Minister Botero and FTA chief negotiator
Gomez emphasized the GOC's need to close FTA negotiations by
June and the commitment of the Colombian negotiating team to
do so. Botero and Gomez also expressed their desire to
advance the process during March 14-21 meetings in
Washington. Botero and Gomez underscored the need for
greater engagement on agricultural issues in order to ensure
public acceptance of an FTA in Colombia. They also
highlighted the political urgency in closing the
telecommunications chapter and pressures from the indigenous
population for greater consideration of biodiversity. Both
expressed concern that problems in resolving outstanding
trade disputes in Peru and Ecuador not slow down the process
and Botero promised to push for further action by Quito and
Lima. Botero and Gomez's presentations made it clear that
while the GOC sees the urgency of closing in June, it does
not feel this is possible without positive results that will
help cement private sector support for the process. End

2. (U) On March 9, Trade Minister Jorge Humberto Botero
hosted a meeting with the Ambassador to discuss the upcoming
FTA talks in Washington. Botero was accompanied by
newly-named Trade Vice Minister Eduardo Munoz, chief FTA
negotiator Hernando Jose Gomez and deputy chief negotiator
Juan Carlos Botero. The Ambassador was accompanied by the

3. (C) Minister Botero began by going over the main points
of his recent Washington visit and reiterated that the GOC
needed to finish negotiations in June to allow for
Congressional review this year. Delaying consideration in
the Colombian Congress past 2006 would put the FTA in the
middle of the Congressional and Presidential election cycles.
At best, this would delay consideration until after the new

Congress and President assumed power in August 2006. At
worst it could lead to Congress voting down the agreement.
Botero made clear that the timing of the negotiations had now
become a crucial issue and the GOC would do everything in its
power to allow negotiations to conclude in June. Botero
added that the GOC was concerned that any delay by Peru and
Ecuador in resolving outstanding trade disputes could hold up
U.S. Congressional review until these disputes were resolved.
Botero then stated that Colombia was willing to go it alone,
but promised to call the trade ministers of Peru and Ecuador
to push them on resolving the disputes.


4. (C) Chief negotiator Gomez then went over the key
concerns at several tables:

a) Telecommunications

The GOC still hopes to get some of the obligations for fixed
line operators applied to cellular operators. The GOC really
wants three provisions applied: (a) interconnection rights;
(b) safeguard and prohibition of crossed subsidies; (c)
obligation of resale. While they will request others at the
table (such as number portability and dialing parity) the
three mentioned are the key items the GOC requests. Gomez
also said that the GOC seeks some type of notification by FCC
that there are only three authorized Colombian providers of
long distance ) even a mention somewhere in the FCC website
would suffice. Botero added that the telecommunications
issue had an important political dynamic. Bogota and
Medellin, Colombia's two largest cities, had two of the three
largest telecommunications companies in Colombia. In Bogota,
the opposition mayor was using the issue to generate
opposition to the FTA. Thus, if we could close the chapter
and provide the areas of coverage that those companies sought
for cellular operators, we would be able to disarm
potentially powerful opposition.

b) Agriculture

Botero made it clear that the GOC needs positive movement on
the zero for zero offer in the agricultural bilateral meeting
March 21-22. He was specifically interested in the inclusion
of fruits and vegetables in the offer, but did not mention
what the GOC was willing to offer in exchange for this.
Botero added that agriculture has an important constituency
in the Congress and that it would be impossible to gain
acceptance for the agreement without a balanced agreement
that would provide increased access for both sides. Botero
maintained that without progress in Washington he would be
unable to maintain support from key agricultural
constituencies. He mentioned key areas where he felt we
could work on a mutually beneficial solution:

i. Coffee ) the GOC seeks that the US consider the
geographical denomination &Coffee from Colombia8 ) which
was recently granted by the Colombian Superintendency of
Commerce. Botero offered that the GOC would be willing to
consider some type of protection of Puerto Rican producers
(who asked for an exclusion from accepting Colombian coffee)
in exchange for this. Such a deal would allow the powerful
coffee federation to support the agreement, which means
support from Congressional leaders in the coffee growing

ii. Beef/dairy ) the GOC seeks a dairy deal as the US and
Colombia both have complementary offensive interests. Botero
also asked that the US approve regions in Colombia as HMD
free rather than the whole country (we explained that such a
request is currently before USDA). These two items would
gain the political support of the national cattleman's
association and would ensure Congressional support from
cattle growing states.

iii. Real market access - Botero raised the need for &real
market access8 for agricultural goods - Colombian code for
flexibility on SPS. Botero and Gomez argued that the USG
also had interests where an Australia-FTA like SPS commission
would be beneficial, namely BSE and avian flu. They added
that they understood that much of the real access required
considerable investment from the GOC, such as access for
fresh beef and strengthening the Colombian Government,s
technical capabilities to allow for equivalency in technical
findings, but that the commission and acceptance of
equivalency (once proven) would give the GOC the political
cover to make the necessary changes and win support.

iv. Sensitive products - Gomez stated that the GOC had four
very sensitive agricultural products: beans, rice, corn, and
chicken leg quarters where they sought special relief and
felt that we had &to think out of the box,8 meaning
consideration of other mechanisms such as long term TRQ,s,
special TRQ's, and mechanisms that would allow Colombia to
counter any negative effects of lingering subsidies. They
raised rice in particular, where US subsidies allow the
export price to be below production costs in Colombia while
the production costs in the US were higher. They also
mentioned that in sugar, any access for alcohol or products
containing sugar would help them offset the demands of the
sugar sector.

v. More time ) the GOC is convinced that we need more
time to discuss agricultural issues but we can settle
everything but the most sensitive issues while CAFTA is under

c) Intellectual Property

According to Botero, the Andean Trade Ministers are trying to
quell a rebellion from the Health Ministers to limit data
protection. Botero thinks the effort has been successful,
but it can resurface at any minute. Botero and Gomez both
stated that Colombia could accept an IP chapter with
commitments similar to those in CAFTA and the Chile FTA, but
they were concerned that Peru,s reluctance to join the data
exclusivity offer would hinder movement. They asked the USG
to work with Colombia and Ecuador and not wait for Peru to
join the offer. They also stated that it was imperative for
the USG to answer the offer made to establish a negotiating

d) Biodiversity

Botero came to the meeting after filming a TV show to counter
increasing attacks from indigenous groups (a poll announced
this week showed that 98 percent of indigenous groups in the
Valle del Cauca region were against the FTA and that they
felt they had been ignored). Botero used this to reiterate
the need for inclusion of language on biodiversity in the
US-Andean FTA ) language that would recognize the rights of
governments and their commitment to protect genetic resources
and traditional knowledge. Both Botero and Gomez underscored
that they were not looking for a back door for the
biodiversity convention, but they needed mention of
biodiversity for political reasons.

e) Used Goods

Botero and Gomez highlighted this was a contentious issue,
and felt that the GOC could grant access to remanufactured
and reconditioned equipment, but not used clothing. They
were concerned, however, that they still did not have a good
idea of the scope of the USG,s desire to include these
goods. They asked for greater clarity.

The GOC feels the heat

5. (C) After seven rounds of negotiations, the GOC is
feeling the heat and, because of the electoral calendar, a
genuine sense of urgency. While there has been success in
industrial market access, where the offer on the table now
betters access under ATPDEA, no chapters have closed, and the
private sector is growing restless. Hence the GOC's
insistence on coming away from next week's talks with
something to show. The political realities and pressures
expressed by the minister are very real as is the GOC's
recognition that it needs to move forward quickly in order to
meet the goal of closing negotiations in June or July at the
latest. What remains to be seen is how that sense of urgency
will translate into action at the negotiating table.
Ambassador shared that reciprocal movement must begin on the
Colombian side. We believe they are ready.