Wikileaks: Vietnamese consul: Labor agreements with Qatar "just paper"
Viewing cable 09DOHA651, VIETNAMESE CONSUL: LABOR AGREEMENTS WITH QATAR
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PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHDO #0651/01 3071052
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031052Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9470
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0001
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 000651
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2019
TAGS: PREL ELAB KTIP VM QA
SUBJECT: VIETNAMESE CONSUL: LABOR AGREEMENTS WITH QATAR
REF: A. DOHA 545
¶B. DOHA 595
Classified By: Ambassador Joseph E. LeBaron for reasons 1.4 (b and d).
(C) KEY POINTS
-- During an October 29 meeting with Poloff Caudill,
Vietnamese consul Mau Tien Dong dismissed as symbolic ("just
paper") the February labor agreement between his country and
Qatar under which the GOQ agreed to accept 25,000 Vietnamese
workers (Ref A).
-- He stated that there are 1,750 Vietnamese working in
Qatar, and that he did not expect that number to increase in
the near future.
-- He also described as "limited" the Qatari market for
Vietnamese agricultural products. He was more optimistic,
however, over the prospects of Qatari investment in Vietnam.
-- Mau said the projected opening of a Qatari embassy in
Hanoi by the end of the year remains on target, but that the
opening of a consulate in Ho Chi Minh City would be delayed.
-- Mau's analysis of Qatar as a destination for Vietnamese
labor confirms the Embassy's belief that the optimistic
public statements of its former Ambassador and senior
Vietnamese visitors greatly overstated the case. Although
Qatar has not suffered as badly as some of its Gulf neighbors
from the global economic downturn, its need for cheap sources
of labor seems to have stabilized. Moreover, to the extent
that it needs foreign labor, Qatar has found in Nepal a rich
source ready to export its workers to Doha.
-- We should not be misled by Mau's pessimism over the future
of agriculture exports and his optimism over the possibility
of Qatari investment; they go hand in hand. Qatar is in the
process of formulating a national strategy for food security
that we expect to shift from a focus on land ownership in
developing countries to land leases and joint ventures with
the private sector in developed countries (Ref B). It is
likely that one of the top agenda items for the team at the
new Qatari embassy in Hanoi will be to initiate a partnership
designed to bolster Qatar's food security.
End Key Points and Comments.
¶1. (C) At an October 28 meeting with Poloff Caudill,
Vietnamese consul Mau Tien Dong called the labor agreement
between his country and the GOQ "just paper". He said that
the February agreement under which the GOQ agreed to accept
25,000 Vietnamese workers (Ref A) was merely a gesture of
goodwill on the part of the two countries, and the success
and structure of the Vietnamese economy made the prospects
for an exodus to Doha very unlikely. Mau pointed out that
Qatar is in need of construction workers, and that the
Vietnamese economy supplied sufficient jobs for construction
¶2. (C) The Vietnamese consul estimated the size of the
Vietnamese population in Qatar at 1,750, and predicted that
the number would not rise significantly in the near future.
This contradicted early press statements by then-Ambassador
Phung The Long, which had placed the number at 8,000 (Ref A).
He said that any future influx of Vietnamese laborers into
Qatar would be skilled workers. He also noted that very few
Qataris currently visit Vietnam, but expressed his optimism
that tourism would increase as Qataris became educated about
¶3. (C) Mau was guarded in his assessment of the prospects for
increased trade between Vietnam and Qatar. He reiterated
that Vietnam remains a primarily agricultural country, and
that the Qatari market for its main product, rice, was
limited. "It takes a while for a country to become used to
eating rice, and to the extent that the people here eat rice,
India and the Philippines have already cornered the market",
he said. He was more optimistic when discussing the
opportunities for Qatari financial investment in Vietnam.
"They have money, and we have projects", he observed.
¶4. (C) Mau also stepped back from the August announcement
that Qatar would open a consulate in Ho Chi Minh City by the
end of the year. He said that while he was optimistic that
DOHA 00000651 002 OF 002
the Qatari embassy in Hanoi would open on schedule by year's
end, the Ho Chi Minh City consulate might take more time. He
explained that both his government and the GOQ were focusing
on opening the embassy, as it will foster more government to
government ties relative to the consulate; this focus is
causing the consulate project to slip.
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