US embassy cable - 02TEGUCIGALPA2893

FIDE CHIEF NORMAN GARCIA TO BE NEW TRADE MINISTER

Identifier: 02TEGUCIGALPA2893
Wikileaks: View 02TEGUCIGALPA2893 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Created: 2002-10-17 15:05:00
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 002893 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
PASS TO USTR FOR ANDREA GASH DURKIN 
FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/EPSC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD, PGOV, HO 
SUBJECT: FIDE CHIEF NORMAN GARCIA TO BE NEW TRADE MINISTER 
 
 
1.  (SBU) President Maduro has tapped Norman Garcia, 
Executive Director of the investment and export promotion 
NGO, FIDE, to be the new Minister of Industry and Trade, 
replacing Juliet Handal.  He will be sworn in on October 17 
by Acting President Vicente Williams.  The GOH is also 
creating a cabinet level task force, consisting of the 
Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture, 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Finance Ministry, to 
assure interagency coordination of ongoing trade 
negotiations.  This Trade Negotiation Cabinet will be led by 
Minister of the Presidency, Luis Cosenza. 
 
2.  (SBU) Norman Garcia is a former Minister of Tourism 
during the Flores Administration.  He has wide contacts 
throughout Central America and in the United States.  His 
English is excellent.  Since President Maduro's election, he 
has worked closely with Vice President Vicente Williams to 
develop the Competitiveness Council, and was instrumental in 
bringing Michael Porter to Honduras earlier this year.  He 
is a close associate of Minister of the Presidency Luis 
Cosenza and Minister for Communications and Strategic 
Affairs, Ramon Medina Luna (both former FIDE Directors as 
well).  He does not have direct experience in trade 
negotiations and trade policy, but he should bring a much- 
needed strategic vision to the Ministry.   He is 58 years 
old and has a degree in Industrial Engineering from 
California State Polytechnic University.  Garcia has been an 
excellent Embassy and AID contact for many years. 
 
3.  (SBU) Garcia is well aware that Honduras needs to 
accelerate its preparations for various trade negotiations: 
WTO Doha Round, FTAA, Central America Free Trade talks with 
the United States (USCAFTA), and regional customs union 
talks.  We hope that we will be able to determine shortly 
whether he will attend the upcoming FTAA Ministerial.  Both 
USAID and Econcouns have spoken to Garcia and other GOH 
officials about the need to complete quickly a National 
Action Plan for Honduras for technical assistance in the 
area of Trade Capacity Building, due on October 31.  We 
understand (and hope to confirm shortly) that Garcia plans 
to keep Vice Minister for Foreign Trade Irving Guerrero and 
his new team in place.  SIECA consultant Alvaro Sarmiento is 
continuing with his plans to provide rapid training to the 
new employees in the Ministry; this assistance is financed 
by USAID's G-CAP program. 
 
4. (SBU) Comment: It is a very encouraging sign that the GOH 
chose to replace former Minister Handal with a trusted 
member of Maduro's inner circle, rather than trying to 
create a new government entity to conduct the USCAFTA 
negotiations.  We also consider it encouraging that Cosenza 
plans to lead the Trade Negotiation Cabinet and to keep it 
small.  While other Ministries will need to be included and 
consulted (especially Labor and Natural Resources) from time 
to time, we believe this approach demonstrates that the GOH 
intends to now give trade policy the attention it deserves. 
End Comment. 
 
Palmer 

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