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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06KABUL1345
2006-03-27 15:30:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

AFGHANISTAN ADVOCACY SUCCESS STORY: U.S. POULTRY

Tags:   ECON  ETRD  EINV  EFIN  PREL  OPIC  EAID  PGOV  AF 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3015
RR RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #1345/01 0861530
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271530Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9194
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA WASHDC
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 6848
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 3040
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2366
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 5742
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1210
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001345 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SA/FO, SA/A, EB/TPP
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN, KAMEND
CJTF-76 FOR POLAD, CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A
COMMERCE FOR AADLER, SHAMROCK, JNELHYBEL
ISLAMABAD FOR AG ATTACHE HANDERSON
USDA FOR FAS - WILLIAM BRANT

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EINV EFIN PREL OPIC EAID PGOV AF
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN ADVOCACY SUCCESS STORY: U.S. POULTRY
IMPORTER OVERCOMES AI SCARE WITH EMBASSY SUPPORT

REF: KABUL 0938



1. (U) Summary: In the wake of Afghanistans first
confirmed case of Avian Influenza, Summit Associates, an
American company that imports U.S. frozen chicken and eggs,
requested Embassy advocacy to intervene with customs
officials blocking Summit containers from entering the
country and to help lobby GOA authorities against a
possible all-out imported poultry ban. Embassy advocacy
with senior GOA officials in Kabul and Herat, including the
Minister of Agriculture, got Summits product cleared.
While Summits troubles have eased for now, widespread
Afghan misunderstanding and fear about the nature of AI
will require continued Embassy vigilance. End summary.



2. (U) On March 12, Econoff was contacted by the owner of
Summit Associates, a Long Island based company that imports
U.S. frozen chicken and eggs from Arkansas to Afghanistan
via Pakistan and Iran (reftel.) Customs officials in Herat
had refused to clear a shipment of ten containers of Summit
product, which was still sitting at the border. Summit was
concerned that the GOA would soon institute a total ban on
n
imported poultry products in a misguided attempt to prevent
the spread of AI. Summit requested immediate Embassy
advocacy to help clear its shipment in Herat and to arrange
meetings with senior GOA officials to provide them
information about USG export policies that prevent the
export of contaminated product.



3. (U) A March 12 Ministry of Finance decree (based on a
decision by the National Committee for AI) banned poultry
imports from Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, China and India but
allowed continued imports of poultry products from AI free
countries such as the United States, Brazil and Australia
on a trial basis. Embassy contacted Herat Customs to
request immediate clearance based on this decree. The
shipments were cleared on March 14 thanks to intervention
by the USAID-funded Bearing Point Customs Advisor based in
Herat.



4. (U) On March 18 Econ Section arranged for and attended
meetings with Summit management and Deputy Director of
Customs Sayed Merjan Moshef, Deputy Minister of Commerce
Ziauddin Zia, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Health Dr.
Abdullah Fahim and Minister of Agriculture Obaidullah
Ramin. In each meeting, Summit explained that its products
are subject to stringent US health and safety requirements
and certified disease-free by USDA health inspectors before
shipment.



5. (SBU) All GOA officials acknowledged that the U.S. is AI
free and that, as poultry products are a cheap and
economical source of protein for the population, a total
ban would be counterproductive. The Ministry of Health
provided Embassy an advance copy of a March 19 letter from
the Minister of Health to the Minister of Commerce
supporting continued import of poultry products from AI
free countries. Deputy Minister Zia acknowledged the
importance of Summits USD 1 million investment to the
country and promised to weigh in on the economic impact of
a total ban with the National Committee. The Deputy
Director of Customs promised to speak with Herat Customs
about properly enforcing the existing regulations.



6. (SBU) Minister Ramin was less sympathetic to Summits
plight, hinting that the GOA may politically have no choice
but to institute a total ban as uninformed and widespread

KABUL 00001345 002 OF 002


concern among the Afghan population creates pressure for
the GOA to take bold measures. Ramin noted that the
decision would not be his alone and offered to arrange for
Summit to address the National Committee on AI.



7. (SBU) On March 20, Econoff accompanied Summit to Herat
for a meeting with the Director of Herat Customs to request
that future shipments are properly cleared in accordance
with the GOAs decree. With the assistance of Herat PRTOff
and Bearing Point Customs Advisor, Econoff secured
assurances that Summits shipment would not only be
cleared, but processed immediately at the Islam Qalah
border crossing rather than in Herat proper (Note: The 120
kilometer distance between the two points often results
additional bureaucratic delays and additional fees.
fees.
End note.) Fifteen containers were cleared at Islam Qalah
on March 25 without incident.



8. (SBU) Comment: Direct and timely post intervention, up
to the level of the Minister of Agriculture, was effective
in resolving Summits immediate concern. In an effort to
prevent a politically motivated total ban on poultry
imports, we will continue to work with Summit to raise GOA
awareness of measures in place to prevent AI from entering
the country through U.S. poultry imports. Summit has
offered to fund technical advisors from USDA and the U.S.
Poultry and Egg Export Council to provide training on these
issues. Misinformation among the local populace, however,
is another matter. While in Herat, Econoff learned that
local mullahs have issued fatwahs against eating chicken.
Summit may face tough times ahead.

Norland