1. The Seventeenth Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) was held in Singapore on 24 – 26 August 1995. The Meeting was preceded by a Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-AMAF) on 21 – 23 August 1995.
2. The Meeting was attended by H.E. Pehin Dato Haji Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources of Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Mr Djamaludin Suryohadikusumo, Minister of Forestry of Indonesia; H.E. Datuk Amar Dr Haji Sulaiman Haji Daud, Minister of Agriculture of Malaysia; H.E. Hajah Siti Zainab Dato Sheikh Abu Bakar, Deputy Minister of Primary Industries of Malaysia; H.E. Mr Manuel M Lantin, Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture of the Republic of the Philippines; H.E. Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for National Development for Singapore; H.E. Mr Matthias Yao Chih, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development, Singapore; H. E. Mr Suwit Khunkitti, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand; H.E. Mr Nguyen Cong Tan, Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; and H.E. Dato’ Ajit Singh, Secretary-General of ASEAN, and their respective delegations.
3. H.E. Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for National Development, Singapore and H.E. Mr Manuel M Lantin, Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture, Republic of the Philippines, were elected Chairman and Vice- Chairman of the Meeting, respectively.
4. The Ministers welcomed the participation of Vietnam and looked forward to a more vigorous ASEAN cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry. Senior Officials and the ASEAN Secretariat to facilitate Vietnam’s active participation in the ASEAN cooperation programmes.
5. The Ministers noted the rapid changes in the international market, particularly with the implementation of commitments under the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This will impose new challenges for the development of the agriculture and forestry sectors in the region. ASEAN has to increase its competitiveness in the international market while taking into consideration the sustainability of its resources and the conservation of the environment.
6. The Ministers also noted that with the transformation from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy in most Member Countries, there have been changes in the agriculture and forestry sectors. Nevertheless, the contribution of these sectors to GDP is still important and a large segment of the population remains dependent on these sectors.
7. The Ministers were satisfied with the progress on the inclusion of unprocessed agricultural products into the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Scheme of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The Ministers agreed to the immediate inclusion of 1,304 tariff lines into the CEPT Scheme and noted that tariff reduction on these products is scheduled to be implemented on 1 January 1996.
8. The Masters expressed concern over the EC Council Directive on I Hygiene of Foodstuffs to be implemented on 14 December 1995 which requires bulk foodstuffs in liquid, granular, or powder form to be transported in receptacles and/or containers/tankers reserved for the transport of foodstuffs. This Directive would adversely affect ASEAN exports of foodstuffs, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, which are important exports of ASEAN to the European Union (EU). This matter would be taken up with the EU authorities concerned.
9. The Meeting also expressed concern over the unilateral action Liken by some local authorities in the EU to restrict the use of tropical timber as well as the development of a number of unilateral certification and labelling schemes with a distinct focus on tropical timber and forest products. The Meeting felt strongly that the EU should initiate appropriate measures to ensure that its local authorities lift their unilateral actions and abide by the international commitments made by the EU and the national governments of its constituent states. Any certification and labelling, scheme proposed by the EU for timber and forest products should apply to all types of timber, based on internationally-agreed criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management for all types of forests, and should not be implemented sooner than the year 2000.
10. In welcoming the establishment c)f the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) under the aegis of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), the Meeting called for the IPF to take concrete action to avoid double standards and discrimination when applying trade measures.
11. In order to facilitate trade and to make ASEAN products more competitive in the world market, the Masters called for continuous efforts to harmonise sanitary and phytosanitary measures for food products. The Ministers welcomed the initiatives to establish ASEAN guidelines for “Halal” food and to harmonise veterinary vaccine standards.
12. The Ministers welcomed the involvement of the private sector in the joint promotion of ASEAN agriculture and forest products such as coconut oil, palm oil, carrageenan and cocoa in the world market and noted the progress achieved in the past year.
13. The Ministers were pleased to note that ASEAN is self-sufficient, in rice and sugar. However, due to growing demand for corn and soyabean arising from the rapid expansion of meat consumption in the region, the Ministers noted that there had been increasing imports of these commodities for the poultry and livestock industries. The Ministers called for greater cooperation in the production of these commodities so as to reduce ASEAN’s dependence on imports.
14. The Ministers endorsed the proposal of the forestry sector to upgrade skills and capabilities in the field of forest fire management as these undertakings would help to reduce transboundary pollution in the region, the Ministers also expressed their support for the ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution prepared by the Environment Sector.
15. To meet the challenges facing the agriculture and forestry sectors in the 21st Century, the Ministers called for new initiatives to achieve global competitiveness through modernisation and sustainable development of agriculture and forestry. The Ministers urged Member Countries to further liberalise and facilitate trade through the CEPT Scheme and. the harmonisation of sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The Ministers also called for greater application of science and technology to raise productivity in agriculture and forestry and for the true and development of human resources. The Ministers stressed the importance for Member Countries to continue to work closely with the private sector and to take common stands at international fora on issues which affect the development of agriculture and forestry in the region.
16. The Meeting, agreed that the next meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry would be held in the Philippines in August 1996.
17. The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN solidarity and cordiality.