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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MANAGUA275
2006-02-06 16:02:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Managua
Cable title:  

NICARAGUA ONE STEP CLOSER TO CAFTA RATIFICATION:

Tags:   EAGR  ETRD  NU 
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VZCZCXYZ0015
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0275/01 0371602
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061602Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5142
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
						UNCLAS MANAGUA 000275 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

SAN JOSE FOR FAS - KNISHIURA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA ONE STEP CLOSER TO CAFTA RATIFICATION:
U.S. MEAT AND POULTRY INSPECTION SYSTEM DECLARED EQUIVALENT

REF: A. MANAGUA 0026


B. MANAGUA 0256



1. (SBU) Summary: Denis Salgado, Nicaragua,s Director
General of Animal and Plant Health, told Econoffs on February
2 that the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGFOR) has found the
U.S. meat and poultry inspection system
&equivalent8 to the Nicaraguan inspection regime. This
essential step for entry into force of CAFTA-DR came after a
whirlwind trip by six Nicaraguan inspectors to USDA
headquarters and various meat and poultry facilities in the
U.S. The trip was hastily arranged in an effort to clear the
way for entry into force before March 1 (all requirements for
which must be completed by February 16). While the
Nicaraguan audit team reported some "deficiencies,8 they
were satisfied overall. Salgado expected to send a letter
formalizing the determination of equivalency at any time,
although it is also possible that equivalency will instead be
granted through a ministerial agreement. (MAGFOR is
evaluating which is required.) Post extends its gratitude to
FAS and the entire USDA team in Managua, San Jose,
Washington, and several states for their efficiency,
responsiveness, and professionalism in organizing a
successful audit by MAGFOR inspectors. Hurculean efforts to
pull together an audit agenda and fund travel of the
Nicaraguan inspectors - all within three days - were a
crucial contribution to the implementation of CAFTA-DR. USDA
also deserves credit for deftly handling potential problems
during the inspections. End Summary.

Something to Crow About
- - - - - - - - - - - -



2. (SBU) Despite the GON,s inability to fund travel for the
MAGFOR audit team and the difficulty of arranging the trip on
very short notice, the Nicaraguans were able to assess USDA
inspection procedures in a variety of settings. The audit
team accompanied USDA inspectors at several beef, pork, and
poultry processing plants in three states. According to USG
sources and Salgado, most of the stops went reasonably well,
and the overall determination of MAGFOR was to recognize the
USDA meat and poultry inspection system as equivalent to
Nicaragua,s own regime. Department of Agriculture officials
who accompanied the MAGFOR personnel report that the
Nicaraguans seemed
&professional and not political.8 The reason for the lack
of lead time in arranging the inspection tour was a joint USG
and GON desire to meet all preconditions for CAFTA-DR by
February 16, in order to qualify for entry into force on
March 1. This hurdle has now been cleared. (Comment: Other
preconditions, such as legislative action on Intellectual
Property Rights and Penal Code reforms still remain, although
there remains cause for cautious optimism for meeting the
February 16 deadline. See REFTEL Managua 0256. End Comment).

Inspectors Have Some Beefs
- - - - - - - - - - - - -



3. (SBU) The visits to the meat and poultry processing plants
were not without problems. At a poultry facility in Georgia,
there was miscommunication within the company about the level
of access the audit team should have. The group was told the
next day that they could return to the plant, but the
Nicaraguans declined, saying they obtained enough information
from their visit to a second plant in the area. While stops
at two beef and one pork plant in Texas went well, a second
pork facility that made sausage had a few regulatory
compliance issues. The Nicaraguan auditors acknowledged that
the USDA official acted appropriately to address the
situation.



4. (SBU) The Nicaraguan auditors noted some differences
between what the FSIS inspectors look for when they come to
Nicaragua and what the inspectors in the U.S. plants look
for. Salgado also mentioned factors, that in his view, give
Nicaraguan inspectors more authority than their U.S.
counterparts. The GON plans to write a report including a
list of suggestions for improvements to the U.S. system.
(Comment: MAGFOR sees these recommendations as constructive
and they are not offering the report just to be critical.
Perhaps this is a positive indication that MAGFOR takes its
role in protecting animal and human health seriously. End
Comment).

Will Nicaraguan Audit Herd Other CAFTA Countries to Action?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



5. (SBU) Salgado indicated that MAGFOR,s initiative in
conducting an equivalency audit had elicited strong, negative
reactions from the other CAFTA signatory countries,
especially from the Honduran and Salvadoran Ministries of
Agriculture. When asked what factors set Nicaragua apart in
its more deliberative approach on the equivalency, Salgado
suggested that his Central American counterparts, and their
supervisors in government, have a "closer relationship with
the private sector. Some are producers themselves." He also
noted that Nicaragua set a precedent; other signatory
countries are now taking action and planning to conduct
similar audits of the U.S. meat and poultry evaluation system.
TRIVELLI