1. The Twentieth Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) was held in Hanoi, 17-18 September 1998. The Meeting was officially opened by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Manh Cam, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam and chaired by H.E. Mr. La Huy Ngo, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. (see attachment for list of participants)

2. The Ministers discussed the impacts of the current economic crisis on the food, agriculture and forestry sectors in ASEAN. They noted the rapid increase in unemployment, rise in poverty and in some cases shortage of food, especially in the urban areas. They agreed that food, agriculture and forestry sectors play an important role in addressing the social impacts of the crisis by providing food and employment. At the same time, these sectors can bring in foreign exchange through their exports or saving the foreign exchange by minimising imports. Indeed, they recognised that exports of agricultural and forestry products in many ASEAN countries played an important role in cushioning the impact of the crisis.

3. The Ministers also noted that climatic change hampered the performance of agriculture and forestry sectors in various Member Countries. They resolved that greater cooperation in ASEAN would be needed to enhance the role of these sectors in coping with the economic crisis and climatic change and to ensure sustainable development of ASEAN in the long run.

4. The Ministers endorsed the Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation In Food, Agriculture and Forestry for the 1999-2004 period. The Strategic Plan identifies strategic thrusts, action programmes and activities focused on enhancing food security, and the international competitiveness of ASEAN’s food, agricultural and forest products, sustainable utilisation and conservation of natural resources, encouragement of the private sector’s increased involvement, and enhancement of joint approaches on international and regional issues. Some of these programmes such as strengthening ASEAN food security, promotion of sustainable agriculture and forest management through development of environment friendly technologies, arrangements and establishment of networking and strategic alliances with the private sector to promote investment opportunities in ASEAN, will be incorporated in the Hanoi Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN Vision 2020. The HPA will be considered for endorsement at the Sixth ASEAN Summit in December 1998 in Hanoi.

5. The Minister’s noted with satisfaction the progress made in implementing existing collaborative programmes and activities in the sectors and sub-sectors of food (food security and food handling); agriculture (crops, livestock, fisheries, agricultural training and extension, and agricultural cooperatives) and forestry. In particular, they commended the achievement of various Country initiatives which include:

  • The Philippine’s Initiative on ASEAN Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Knowledge Network. The IPM Knowledge Network and Regional Center was inaugurated in June 1998. A Regional IPM Planning Workshop was conducted with the participation from seven member countries. The Center has been gathering IPM information for conversion into electronic files as well as developed training handbooks and manuals in collaboration with the Philippines’ IPM Knowledge Hub.
  • Singapore’s Initiative on Harmonisation of Regulations on Agricultural Products Derived from Biotechnology. An ASEAN task force has been formed to establish harmonised regulations by year 2000. The Regulations will help facilitate the commercialisation of these products and ensure that these products meet the health and environment requirements of importing countries.
  • Thailand’s Initiative on Common Position on Selected Environmental and Conservation Issues Related to Trade in ASEAN Agricultural and Forest Products. A workshop was organized by Thailand with funding support from Danish Cooperation on Environment and Development (DANCED) to determine common trade related environmental issues among ASEAN member countries. The Natural Resources and Biodiversity Institute of Thailand (NAREBI) will coordinate these activities with other regional and international bodies such as the ASEAN Regional Center for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC) in the Philippines, etc.
  • Thailand’s Initiative on the ASEAN Shrimp Industry Task Force (ASITF). An interim secretariat office was set up at the Thai Department of Fisheries to operate the Website to provide information on shrimp farming Industry in ASEAN; and
  • Indonesia’s Initiative on ASEAN Network on Agroclimate. Indonesia is consulting other ASEAN bodies and national institutions for their comments on this initiative. A more detailed project design will be prepared upon receiving comments from all these bodies and institutions.

6. As part of ASEAN’s concerted efforts to strengthen ASEAN’s food, agriculture cooperation, the Ministers approved five new Country Initiatives, two proposed by Vietnam, one by Malaysia, and two by Singapore; namely:

  • Vietnam’s two Initiatives: one on Studying the Impacts of the Economic and Financial Crisis on Food, Agriculture and Forestry Sectors In ASEAN Member Countries and Identifying Measures to Overcome the Situation. The study aims at analysing and assessing the Impacts of the crisis on food, agriculture and forestry sectors, and proposing appropriate measures to minimising those impacts; and the other on the Establishment of Mechanisms for Gathering and Sharing Information on Protected Forests in ASEAN Member Countries.
  • Malaysia’s initiative on Sustainable Forest Management in ASEAN which will address: (i) Development of ASEAN Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management, (ii) Forestry Information System in the ASEAN Region, and (iii) Demonstration Area Network on Sustainable Forest Management for the ASEAN Region. The objective of the initiative is to enhance cooperation and coordination of ASEAN activities in sustainable forest management (SFM). It will also help promote best forest management practices through the sharing of experience in the development of criteria and indicators, the establishment of a regional database on forestry and the networking of well managed forests in ASEAN Member Countries. The Regional Centre for Forest Management in Malaysia will implement the Initiative with the help of other Member countries; and
  • Singapore’s Initiatives: one on a Study to Identify High-Impact Investment Opportunities in Key Areas under the Food, Agriculture and Forestry Setors of ASEAN and to Provide Essential Information for Investment Decisions on these Opportunities. The Study aims to identify economically viable areas for private sector investments under the food, agriculture and forestry sectors in ASEAN so as to enhance the competitiveness of these sectors and strengthen the food security capabilities of ASEAN. The report generated from the Study will provide the private sector and foreign investors with sufficient information to enable them to make investment decisions. The other Initiative is on the Establishment of an ASEAN – Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) Regional Network for Vegetable Research and Development (ASEAN-AVRDC). The ASEAN-AVRDC Network will promote sustainable and improved production of good quality and safe vegetables for consumption and trade. The Network will also enhance vegetable R&D cooperation as well as the development of indigenous vegetable-related industries within ASEAN.

7. The Ministers underlined the importance of reducing non-tariff barriers and facilitate intra-ASEAN trade in food, agriculture and forestry products that are widely traded among ASEAN Member Countries. They commended the achievements by Member Countries in the efforts to regularise the production and utilisation of animal vaccines and harmonisation of good shrimp farm management practices, as part of the many efforts made so far to raise the quality of products in ASEAN and make them internationally competitive. In this connection, they officially launched these publications, namely:

  • The Manual of ASEAN Standards of Animal Vaccines;
  • The Manual of ASEAN Rules and Procedures for the Registration of Animal Vaccines;
  • The Manual for the Standard of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for Animal Vaccines;
  • The Manual of ASEAN Accreditation Criteria for Animal Vaccine Testing Laboratories; and
  • The Manual of ASEAN Code of Practice for Commercial Storage, Transportation and Handling of Animal Vaccines; and
  • Manual of ASEAN Good Shrimp Farm Management Practices,

8. To disseminate this information to the private sector, the Ministers also endorsed the following documents for publication:

  • ASEAN General Guidelines on the Preparation and Handling of “Halal” Food (including the Explanatory Notes).
  • Model Protocol for the Use of Irradiation as a Quarantine Treatment for the Export and Import of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for ASEAN.
  • Programme and Work Plan for ASEAN Sea Turtle Conservation and Protection.

9. The Ministers also approved the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLS) for five pesticides in cabbage and tomato. In addition, the Minister urged Member Countries to expedite the process of harmonising MRLs for other types of pesticide and vegetables, harmonisation of phytosanitary measures for various crops products, and harmonisation of Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS)measures in fishery products.

10. The Ministers noted the Initiative to establish the Asia Rice Foundation which is pioneered by an Organising Committee comprising individuals from Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand. The Foundation aimed to provide long-term sustainable financial support to rice-related activities by establishing an endowment fund. The Ministers supported this Initiative in principle and called on private sectors in Asia and aid agencies to provide funding support to this Initiative. The Philippines has already committed USD 1 million to the Foundation and indicated the willingness to host the office of the Foundation.

List of Participants of 20th AMAF

H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib
Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darusselam

H.E. Prof. Dr. Ir. H. Soleh Solahuddin
Minister of Agriculture, Indonesia

H.E. Dr. Siene Saphangthong
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR

H.E. Datuk Amar Dr. Sulaiman Haji Daud
Minister of Agriculture, Malaysia

H.E. Dato’ Hishamuddin Tun Hussein
Deputy Minister of Primary Industries, Malaysia

H.E. Maj. General Nyunt Tin
Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar;

H.E. Mr. Jorge V. Arizabal
Ambassador of the Philippines to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

H.E. Mr. Lim Hng Kiang
Minister for National Development, Singapore

H.E. Mr. Pongpol Adireksarn
Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand

H.E. Mr. Le Huy Ngo
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam

Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng
Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN

H.E. Mr. Tao Seng Huor (Observer)
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia

and their respective delegations.