Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/01/10MANILA9.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA9
2010-01-04 10:48
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXYZ0006
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHML #0009/01 0041048
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 041048Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6148
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 000009

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USDA FAS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2020
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON ETRD PREL RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S FAREWELL CALL ON PHILIPPINE AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ARTHUR YAP

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, reason: 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
——–

¶1. (SBU) In her December 23 farewell call, the Ambassador
and Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap highlighted
strong U.S. – Philippine collaboration throughout 2009,
especially joint efforts to transition former combatants in
Mindanao to peaceful agricultural projects, and a series of
high-level visits between the two countries. Discussion of
agricultural trade issues was mostly positive, as several
high-level decisions served to retain or open markets for
U.S. exporters. Yap also expressed his interest in resolving
the Quedancor/GE Money Bank issue, making the general comment
during the meeting that there would be “no scandals on my
watch” before completing his tenure. If permitted, he will
serve through the end of the Arroyo Administration concurrent
with his campaign for a national congressional seat. END
SUMMARY.

AGRICULTURAL TRADE MOVES HIGH ON AGENDA
—————————————

¶2. (SBU) The Ambassador raised several important
agricultural trade issues with Philippine Department of
Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap in her December 23
farewell call. She thanked Yap for his efforts to postpone
the reworking of the minimum access volume (MAV) issue, which
had been perceived as detrimental to U.S. pork exporters.
The Ambassador commended Yap and his department for their
work to make the Philippines the only country in the world
completely open to U.S. beef products as of October 2009,
when the DA lifted its ban on U.S. meat and bone meal.
(Note: The ban had been imposed since 2000 due to bovine
spongiform encephalopathy concerns.) She also thanked Yap
for his decision to import goats and sheep from the United
States instead of traditional livestock source countries
Australia and New Zealand, as part of the Philippine
livestock upgrade program.

¶3. (SBU) Ambassador Kenney expressed concern that the
market for U.S. vegetable imports was being squeezed by the
DA’s August decision to remove supermarkets, hypermarkets,
and grocery stores from its list of permissible “high-end
markets” for imported vegetables. Yap expressed his general
view that U.S. vegetables should be allowed into supermarkets
and that they do not compete with local produce, most of
which is sold in informal farmers’ markets targeting
Filipinos from the lower economic strata. Yap promised to
review the matter, and both agreed to continue dialogue on
the issue.

QUEDANCOR DEFAULT AND GE MONEY BANK
———————————–

¶4. (SBU) Secretary Yap explained to the Ambassador that the
Department of Agriculture continues to work with others in
the Administration to restructure defaulted Quedancor bonds
held by GE Money Bank. Noting that the issue is complicated
with many legal ramifications, Yap emphasized that the
Philippine Government’s economic team will not “run away”
from the issue. He reiterated what we have heard from other
cabinet officials – there is a commitment to resolve the
issue in order to avoid frightening away investors. The
Ambassador responded that the Embassy would continue to stay
in touch and engage on this issue until resolution.

HIGH-LEVEL AND SUSTAINED COLLABORATION ON AGRICULTURE ISSUES
——————————————— —————

¶5. (SBU) Highlighting strong collaboration between the
United States and the Philippines on agriculture issues, the
Ambassador and Secretary Yap discussed the many high-level
visits in 2009, including those to the Philippines by the
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates. On the Philippine side, the July visit by President
Macapagal-Arroyo was highlighted by a call on President
Obama. During the same trip, Secretary Yap had a productive
meeting with Secretary Vilsack, which laid the groundwork for
his visit to the Philippines in October.

¶6. (SBU) On another positive note, the Ambassador and
Secretary Yap shared views on the importance of their joint
agriculture efforts in Mindanao, especially the mariculture
work that has supported former combatants in their transition
toward peaceful and sustainable livelihoods.

YAP EXPECTED TO REMAIN ACTIVE IN NATIONAL POLITICS
——————————————— —–

¶7. (C) Ambassador Kenney briefed Yap on President Obama’s
nomination of her successor, Harry K. Thomas, Jr., noting his
skills and experience as a diplomat. Yap expressed his
intention to remain Agriculture Secretary for as long as
legally possible, preferably through the end of the Arroyo
Administration. Yap has announced his candidacy for a seat
in the Philippine House of Representatives, running from his
home district in Bohol. Despite these long-term plans,
however, he assured the Ambassador that the “Department of
Agriculture will make sure our work goes well till the last
day.”

COMMENT
——-

¶8. (C) Secretary Yap has been a proactive member of the
Arroyo cabinet, supporting several agriculture trade policies
that were considered to be favorable to U.S. exporters.
Several non-tariff trade barriers remain, however, including
restrictions on the import of fresh vegetables. This issue
was also raised privately and publicly by U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture Vilsack in his October 2009 visit to the
Philippines.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.