US embassy cable - 02TEGUCIGALPA2814

TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS

Identifier: 02TEGUCIGALPA2814
Wikileaks: View 02TEGUCIGALPA2814 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Created: 2002-10-07 23:02:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: ETRD PGOV HO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS TEGUCIGALPA 002814 
 
SIPDIS 
 
PASS TO USTR FOR ANDREA GASH DURKIN 
FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/EPSC 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD, PGOV, HO 
SUBJECT: TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS 
 
1.  (SBU) Minister of Industry and Trade Juliet Handal 
resigned on Friday, October 5.  In announcing her 
resignation, Handal mentioned that she was interested in 
devoting more time to her family and pursuing her business 
interests.  She also pledged support for President Maduro as 
a private business person.  Press reports indicate that she 
resigned after learning that the GOH planned to form a 
special team outside of the Ministry to negotiate the 
USCAFTA.  The press also spoke of differences between the 
Ministry and coffee growers and millers over price controls, 
but Handal did not confirm that these confrontations 
affected her decision.  The GOH plans to name her 
replacement sometime this week. 
 
2.  (SBU) Embassy had heard rumors during the past two to 
three weeks from two sources that the GOH had planned to 
appoint Ramon Medina Luna, current Minister for Strategic 
Issues and Communication and former Minister of the Economy, 
to be a special trade negotiator.  It is possible that the 
GOH will ask Medina to take over the Ministry instead. 
Another possible replacement for the trade minister, or 
alternatively possible chief of a USCAFTA negotiating team, 
is Norman Garcia, current director of the export promotion 
NGO called FIDE. 
 
3.  (SBU) A third possibility, although Embassy contacts 
have not mentioned his name recently, is Oscar Nunez, a 
director at the Central Bank.  Nunez headed Honduras' 
negotiating team for the GATT accession in the early 1990's. 
 
4.  (SBU) Comment.  Minister Handal never had the support of 
the President's closest advisors, who viewed her as 
inexperienced and at times a loose cannon.  Handal and her 
Vice Minister for Foreign Trade, Irving Guerrero, did not 
have backgrounds in trade policy but improved markedly in 
their understanding and management of trade issues since 
they entered office in late January.  With limited funds, 
they had restructured the Ministry and were beginning to 
form and train a team of negotiators, with some help from 
our USAID G-CAP program and USAID's bilateral PEP program, 
in preparation for USCAFTA negotiations.  The Embassy was 
heartened to see during Handal's time at the Ministry, more 
operational control of the Honduran Mission to the WTO in 
Geneva and more cooperation from the GOH on key WTO issues. 
End comment. 
 
Pierce 

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