|Wikileaks:||View 02TEGUCIGALPA2893 at Wikileaks.org|
|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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