Diana T Fritz 08/27/2006 05:53:43 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results
C O N F I D E N T I A L ABU DHABI 04573
INFO: P/M AMB DCM POL
OO RUEHC RUEHZM
DE RUEHAD #4573/01 3121415
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081415Z NOV 05
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2277
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 004573
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/ARPI
STATE FOR EB/TPP/BTA
STATE PASS USTR FOR AMBASSADOR DONNELLY AND DOUG BELL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2015
SUBJECT: UAE FTA CO-CHAIRS ON UPCOMING FTA ROUND
REF: A. ABU DHABI 4306
B. ABU DHABI 4105
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (B & D).
1. (U) This is an action request. Please see para 8.
2. (C) Summary: On November 8, UAE FTA Co-Chairs MinEcon
Sheikha Lubna and Minstate Finance Dr. Khirbash told
Ambassador (in separate conversations) that the Emirati side
is committed to an FTA with the U.S. and that they were
working to make progress in the upcoming November 12-15
London round of negotiations. However, they both expressed
disappointment with a perceived "lack of movement" on the
U.S. side and a perceived USG "lack of acknowledgement" of
movement on the UAE side. Dr. Khirbash stressed that his
instructions from the UAE political leadership were to move
forward on the FTA because of its "strategic importance."
Both raised the issue of telecom; Ambassador stressed that
the U.S. has not proposed a market access limitation on
mobile services. They clearly appreciated Ambassador's
statement that the USG viewed this round of negotiations as
important. End Summary.
3. (C) On November 8, Ambassador and Econchief met with
Minister of Economy and Planning Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi to
discuss the upcoming FTA negotiations in London, the third
round since March 2005. Ambassador also spoke by telephone
with UAE FTA Co-Chair MinState for Finance Dr. Mohammed
Khalfan bin Khirbash the same day. Dr. Khirbash, who was
outside of Abu Dhabi, told Ambassador that the UAE
negotiating team has "direction from our high level
leadership to go forward, because our government views the
FTA as an important strategic agreement." Sheikha Lubna
emphasized that the FTA's emphasis on transparency was
important to the UAE, and that she supported FTAs and the WTO
because they provided good incentives for economic reform.
Sheikha Lubna said that the UAE is a regional leader in
economic openness and diversification, noting that the FTA
could promote further economic reform that would eventually
enhance the UAE's competitiveness. As an American Business
Council member(dating from her days as Tejari.com CEO), she
added that she believed that the goal of an FTA was to
improve the business climate for both sides.
4. (C) Both Sheikha Lubna and Dr. Khirbash expressed
disappointment over the October 7 London meetings, repeating
many of the points made by Deputy PM/MinState Foreign
Affairs Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed and Minister of Information
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to Charge and A/S Welch (ref A).
Dr. Khirbash asserted that the UAE side had come prepared to
make progress and was disturbed that not all of their
preparation "appeared to be taken into account." Sheikha
Lubna identified labor and security of assets as areas where
further dialogue on UAE proposals was needed. She said that
the UAE had announced that it was interested in following the
"Oman FTA model" in regard to labor. She also said that when
the UAE raised security of assets and having a sidebar
meeting to move this subject forward, the U.S. negotiators
responded that it was an OFAC issue that USTR could not
discuss Sheikha Lubna noted that OFAC had already agreed in
principle to discuss the issue, but was awaiting an
invitation from USTR (see ref B).
5. (C) Sheikha Lubna, indicating that she was "speaking as a
friend," told the Ambassador that she understood the
"political reasons" on both sides for wanting the agreement.
She noted that she wanted an agreement that also served the
economic interests of both parties. She cited the
U.S.-Australia FTA as an example of a "good, high quality
agreement," noting that it had taken a full three years to
negotiate. The Ambassador stressed that the November 12-15
London round would be critical. If the negotiations did not
conclude in 2006, the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority
(TPA) could delay the agreement considerably. Sheikha Lubna
responded that she understood the time constraint, but added
that the UAE could not sign an agreement if it did not meet
the UAE,s needs.
6. (C) Ambassador noted to both Sheikha Lubna and Dr.
Khirbash that we took note that the UAE had moved forward in
a number of areas, including on the agencies' and companies'
laws. Dr. Khirbash explained that the UAEG had had a
difficult time convincing its stakeholders of the need to
modify the companies' law for U.S. companies, but did so
because of the strategic importance of the agreement to the
UAE. Ambassador also raised the issue of telecom, explaining
that the U.S. has not proposed a market access limitation on
mobile services in the FTA. Sheikha Lubna disagreed, noting
that the U.S. side had insisted on total access to the UAE
market, the ability to provide telecom cross border (rather
than establishing a physical presence in the UAE), and had
told the UAE that its companies could not operate GSM
networks in the U.S. because that segment of the market was
7. (C) Comment: Sheikha Lubna's conversation with Ambassador
was frank and spirited. It is clear that she and Dr.
Khirbash understand that USTR's room to maneuver is limited
in some areas, but nonetheless the Emirati side seeks U.S.
movement where possible. While the UAE's political
leadership is looking at the FTA's role in the broader
strategic relationship, Sheikha Lubna's comments reflect the
UAEG's need to sell this agreement to its UAE business
community stakeholders. End Comment.
8. (C) Action Requests:
-- Since both Sheikha Lubna and Dr. Khirbash raised our close
strategic partnership in areas ranging from Afghanistan (UAE
troops on the ground), to Iraq (significant financial support
and training of Iraqi security forces), to hurricane relief
($100 million cash donation to the USG), we recommend that
AUSTR Donnelly lead off the November 12 opening session by
thanking the UAE for their close cooperation on broader
-- On the issue of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and
Central Bank's concerns about security of assets, we know
that OFAC would be happy to meet with the UAE, if USTR
agrees. We believe that this has been arranged, but if not,
it would be a gesture that the U.S. negotiators could make to
address a real UAE concern.
-- In addition, please provide more detail on the specifics
of the mobile telephone dispute that we can use in our
conversations with the UAEG. End Action request.
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