1.  The Nineteenth Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) was held in Bangkok on 11-12 September 1997. The Meeting was preceded by the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held on 8-10 September 1997.

2.  The Meeting was attended by H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources of Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Hasan, State Minister of Food Affairs of Indonesia; H.E. Dr. Siene Saphangthong, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR; H,E. Tangku.Dato’ Dr. Mahmud bin Mansur, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Malaysia, H.E. Lt. Gen. Myint Aung, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of Myanmar; H.E. Dr.
Salvador H. Escudero III, Secretary, Department of Agriculture of the Philippines; H. E. Koo Tsai Kee, Parliamentary Secretary for National Development of Singapore; H.E. Shucheep Hansaward, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand; H.E. Dr. Pravat Utamote, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand; H,E. Mr. Nguyen Cong Tan, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam; H.E. Nguyen Ngoc Hong, Vice-Minister of Fisheries of Vietnam; Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN; and their respective delegations. The delegations of Lao PDR and Myanmar attended the AMAF forum for the first time since their admission into ASEAN on 23 July 1997.

3.  The Meeting emphasized the need for ASEAN to strengthen its competitiveness in food, agricultural and forestry products In view of the rapid trend towards globalization and trade liberalization. In this context, the Ministers noted the satisfactory progress and achievements made over the past year In ASEAN regional cooperation in the areas of food security, food handling, crops, livestock, fisheries, agricultural training and extension, agricultural cooperatives, and forestry; as well as in cooperation in trade of agricultural and forest products and joint approaches towards regional and international issues relating to trade of these products, In particular, and to agriculture and forestry, in general.

4.  The Ministers noted the accession of the two new members of ASEAN, i.e. Laos and Myanmar, to the Agreement on the ASEAN Food Security Reserve on 23 July 1997. Contributions of these two new members to the ASEAN Emergency Rice Reserve will further strengthen food security in the region.

5.  The Ministers welcomed ASEAN’s future cooperation plans in the preparation and handling of “halal” food, establishment of quality assurance systems for AS tropical fruits and application of food irradiation technology to further expand and enhace intra- and extra-ASEAN food trade.

6.  The Ministers were satisfied with the progress made in the harmonization of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures as well as quality and standards in crops, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors among ASEAN Member Countries to enhance intra- ASEAN trade in unprocessed and processed agricultural products. Four manuals pertaining to harmonization of animal vaccine standards have been endorsed for publication and distribution for use by interested livestock and livestock products establishments in the region, namely:

  • Manual of ASEAN Criteria for Accreditation of Animal Vaccines;
  • Manual on ASEAN Standards for Animal Vaccines (38 vaccines)
  • Manual on ASEAN Standard for Good Manufacturing Practice for Animal Vaccines; and
  • Manual of ASEAN Rules and Procedures for Registration of Animal Vaccines.

These four manuals complete the programme to allow free trade of veterinary vaccines within ASEAN and to promote International trade of ASEAN veterinary vaccines.

7.  In the fisheries sector, the Manual on Good Shrimp Farm Management Practices has also been endorsed for publication and distribution to Member Countries.

8.  The Ministers were also satisfied with the regional effort to minimize too use of pesticides to ensure food safety and prevent degradation of the environment through intensification of use of integrated past management (IPM) practices in vegetables and fruit production. A regional training on IPM in fruits for agricultural extension officers was conducted in Thailand in August 1996 , while a similar training in vegetables will be hosted by and conducted in Indonesia at the end of September 1997.

9.  To sustain the exchange of knowledge and experiences among farmers in the region, the Ministers agreed to continue with the annual organization of the ASEAN Farmers’ Week which has been conducted In rotation in conjunction with Member Countries’ national farmers’ day/week celebration. In this regard, the Ministers commended the Philippines for hosting the Seventh ASEAN Farmers Week in May 1997 in conjunction with the country’s annual Celebration of National Farmers and Fisherfolk’s Month, and welcomed Brunei Darussalam’s, Malaysia’s and Vietnam’s decision to host the ASEAN Farmers’ Week In 1998, 1999 and 2000, respectively.

10. The Ministers also expressed their satisfaction on the progress made n ASEAN cooperation in forestry and welcomed the decision to convene the First Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials in Forestry and the establishment of the Experts Group on CITES, which will meet before every CITES Conference of the Parties (COP) to consolidate ASEAN’s position on related issues.

11. In cooperation in trade of food, agricultural and forest products, the Ministers noted that, to-date, a total of 1,385 tariff lines of unprocessed agricultural products (UAP) have been included in the Inclusion List of the CEPT Scheme for AFTA.

12. The Ministers were impressed with the implementation of ASEAN Cooperation and Joint Approaches in Agriculture and Forest Products Promotion Scheme add further urged the Joint Committee on the Promotion Scheme to continue identifying and finding ways to solve tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede access of ASEAN agricultural products into both ASEAN and other International markets. In this connection, the Ministers called upon the private sector to participate more actively through the respective industry clubs involved In the Joint Promotion Scheme.

13. The Ministers agreed to the reinstitution of natural rubber into the list of eleven products currently covered by the Joint Promotion Scheme and welcomed Vietnam’s proposal to include coffee in the said list and to be the lead country in the trade promotion of the commodity.

14. Concerned with the conservation and protection of sea turtles, the Ministers agreed that ASEAN should have its own convention for the protection and conservation of sea turtles. The Ministers have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ASEAN Sea Turtle Conservation and Protection, which forms part of ASEAN’s efforts to express to the world ASEAN’s concern on this particular environment-related fisheries issue and its firm stand and Integrated effort to protect and conserve sea turtle vis-a-vis its endeavor to expand the region’s shrimp export to the global market.

15. The Ministers further noted and expressed concern over the fall of natural rubber prices which have serious repercussion on the livelihood of smallholders and economic growth in the ASEAN natural rubber producing countries and urged that ASEAN producing countries initiate a meeting at the ministerial level to discuss possible measures and approaches to improve the situation.

16. In the light of current global challenges to the manufacturing sector and to make the agriculture and forestry sectors more competitive, while maintaining the sustainability of the region’s natural resources, the Ministers agreed to strengthen future regional cooperation In food, agriculture and forestry in line with the ASEAN Vision 2020 Statement on these sectors.

17. In line with this, the Ministers endorsed four new initiatives presented by Member Countries, namely:

  • The Singapore Initiative on Regulations for Agricultural Biotechnology Derived Products In ASEAN focused on the need for discussion to explore the possibility of harmonization of national guidelines and regulations on the use of biotechnology derived products among ASEAN I Member Countries. A workshop will be convened by Singapore In April 1998 for Member Countries to exchange Information on their national regulations and guidelines regarding the use of biotechnology derived products. The workshop would also be opened to other Asia-Pacific countries and the private sector. The workshop will come up with an action plan to be presented at the next Special Senior Officials Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry in April 1998.
  • Thailand Initiative on the establishment of the ASEAN Shrimp Industry Task Force to draw up a regional policy in shrimp production in ASEAN aimed at maximizing the production of shrimp at the lowest costs and most environmentally-friendly manner, making the ASEAN shrimp industry more competitive as the region’s shrimp production Is currently worth US$5 -10 billion per year.
  • Thailand initiative on Environment and Conservation Issues Related to trade in ASEAN Agricultural Products, with the objectives to identify implications of relevant issues, to establish information networks and to develop regional strategy and policy options.
  • The Philippine Initiative on the ASEAN Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Knowledge Network aimed at further strengthening the capacities and capabilities of national IPM programmes to evolve and synthesize

18. The Ministers agreed that the forestry sector should also be emphasized in the light that the sector is being given prominent focus Internationally. Equally important are areas relating to environment, products promotion and research and development as well as the sustainability of resources. The views of the private sector on the matter will also be sought, in view of the important role of the p6vate sector in trade and investment in agriculture and forestry. Specifically for the forestry sector, the Ministers welcomed the decision to convene the first meeting of the Committee of ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry in March 1998 in Kuala Lumpur to discuss policy matters and joint positions and approaches, particularly at International forestry fora and regional cooperation.