1. The Twenty-third Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) which was held on 4 October 2001 in Medan, North Sumatera, was officially opened and chaired by H.E. Prof. Dr. Bungaran Saragih, Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia and attended by:

  • H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam
  • H.E. Mr. May Sam Oeun, Secretary of State of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia
  • H.E. Dr. Rokhmin Dahuri, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia
  • Honourable Mr. Abdul Fattah, DS, Director-General of Forestry Research and Development Agency of the Ministry of Forestry, Indonesia
  • H.E. Mr. Sitaheng Rasphone, Acting Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR
  • H.E. Datuk Dr. Mohd. Effendi Norwawi, Minister of Agriculture, Malaysia
  • H.E. Datuk Anifah Aman, Deputy Minister of Primary Industries, Malaysia
  • H.E. U Ohn Myint, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar
  • H.E. Mr. Leonardo Q. Montemayor, Secretary of Agriculture, the Philippines
  • H.E. Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, Singapore
  • H.E. Mr. Prapat Panyachatraksa, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand
  • Honourable Dr. Le Van Minh, Director-General, International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam
  • Honourable Mr. Tran Duc Minh, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, and their delegations.
  • H.E. Mr. Sitaheng Rasphone, Acting Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR

was elected as the Vice-Chairman.

2. The Ministers noted that economic recovery stabilized in ASEAN countries in 2000 and agreed that appropriate national policies and measures, as well as strong and effective regional collaboration, should sustain such positive development. To this end, the Ministers were confident that continuing cooperation efforts among the Member Countries and ASEAN dialogue partners and international institutions would produce a favourable outlook.

3. The Ministers recognized that the lingering effects of the economic slowdown stressed the need to improve the management and conservation of resources in order to achieve food security, generate employment, protect the environment, conserve biodiversity and attain overall sustainable development.

4. The Ministers reviewed the progress of ASEAN cooperation in the various sectors of food, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, and noted the efforts made in further strengthening ASEAN relations.

5. The Ministers considered the report on the mid-term review of the Ha Noi Plan of Action (HPA) on the sectors of food, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry. The Ministers agreed to submit the Report of the Mid-term Review to the ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam in November 2001.

6. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress made under Member Country initiatives in strengthening collaborations between ASEAN and third parties to improve efficiency and capacity building for the production of good quality safe foods. For example, initiatives such as the ASEAN IPM Knowledge Network and the ASEAN-AVRDC (Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center) Regional Vegetable R&D Network “AARNET” will help address ASEAN’s need for increased production of good quality and safe food and agricultural products. Another significant initiative is enhancing capacity building and public awareness on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) through a series of ASEAN-International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) workshops on Risk Assessment of Agriculture-related GMOs, with the first workshop held in July 2001. The Ministers also agreed that ASEAN shall continue to make use of internal resources in addition to third party funding for projects.

7. The Ministers acknowledged the importance of enhanced cooperation to improve the efficiency of food security arrangements in the region. Recalling their decision at the 22nd Meeting to further look into the problems facing major ASEAN agriculture commodities, the Ministers agreed to the conduct of a study to possibly forge a collective effort among the related Member Countries in the production, marketing, and quality improvement of rice. The study shall explore ways to achieve a level of food security in the region, by improving the existing mechanisms in ASEAN.

8. The Ministers also agreed to develop the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS) in cooperation with international organizations concerned. The Ministers welcomed the announcement that Japan is considering the development of AFSIS.

9. With the realisation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in 2002 which is fast approaching, the Ministers noted that, to-date, a total of 9,218 tariff lines of unprocessed agricultural products (UAPs) have been included in the Inclusion List of the Common Effective Preferential Tariffs (CEPT) Scheme. The increase in the number of tariff lines reaffirms ASEAN’s commitment to regional integration and economic liberalisation.

10. The Ministers recognised this ecological, economic and social benefits of the land and tropical forests of Southeast Asia have contributed to global society. They acknowledged that unless due consideration and care is given to the conservation of agriculture and forest resources, these benefits would become increasingly limited.

11. The Ministers urged Member Countries to give special attention to the conservation of biodiversity, protection of watershed areas and soil conservation to optimise ecological, economical, and social benefits provided by the forests of the region. The governments of ASEAN Member Countries actively cooperate with relevant international institutions and bodies and participate in discussions concerning issues on sustainable development in agriculture and forestry.

12. The Ministers endorsed the agreement by the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF) to adopt the FAO Code of Practise for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific, which serves as a useful tool for improving forest harvesting and management in the region and as a guide to develop specific national codes. A network for the regional implementation of the Code of Practise will be established to develop and implement the various national codes.

13. The Ministers are deeply concerned with the rapid degradation of the global forest resources caused by illegal logging and associated illegal trade. The Ministers recognized the complexity of the problems that covers social, economic, cultural, and political aspects. The Ministers urged ASEAN Member Countries to take immediate actions to address the problems bilaterally and regionally.

14. The Ministers acknowledged that ASEAN is traditionally free from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), with no clinical cases reported in the domestic population of ruminants in Member Countries. Nevertheless, the Ministers recognised that there may be a potential risk of BSE introduction through the importation of Meat-and-Bone Meal and live bovine. In view of this, ASEAN has agreed to take a common stand in dealing with this disease.

15. Furthermore, with respect to the preventive measures on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in ASEAN, the Ministers reiterated the urgency for Member Countries to take the necessary actions to prevent the disease from spreading rapidly across the region.

16. On trade matters, the Ministers again urged Member Countries to continue collectively addressing the issue on discriminatory tariffs for ASEAN canned tuna and import restrictions of agricultural products, including fresh tropical fruits at the various international fora, including WTO – SPS Committee, CER and EU consultations. The Ministers also agreed to request ASEAN concerned bodies to work closely and expeditiously on these matters.

17. With regards the accession of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam to the WTO, the Ministers were briefed by their counterparts from these three new Member Countries on the status of their accession applications. The Ministers took note of the progress as well as difficulties they face in the process of accession, and resolved to facilitate their expeditious accession to the WTO.

18. Ministers also exchanged views on the on-going mandated negotiations in agriculture and the forthcoming Doha WTO Ministerial Conference on 9-13 November 2001, noting the need for ASEAN interests in agriculture, fisheries commodities and forestry be addressed adequately. Ministers expressed concern about the slow pace of reform in the agricultural policies of developed countries, particularly trade distortion domestic support, export subsidies and discriminatory tariff. ASEAN is also concern with peak tariff and tariff escalation confronting its processed agriculture and commodity products. Ministers resolved to intensify coordination in strategy and development of positions relative to the agriculture negotiations and the proposed launching of a new round.

19. The Ministers strongly supported the plan to convene the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Conference on Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security in the New Millennium: “Fish for the People” to be held in Bangkok, 19-24 November 2001. The Conference aims to develop a regional policy and plan of actions on the contribution of fisheries to the food security and to promote awareness on sustainable fisheries. Recognizing the importance of sustainable fisheries to support food security, the Ministers agreed that the management of commercial fisheries including shark fisheries and fish species that have been bred and farmed successfully should come under the purview of the FAO and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and not under CITES.

20. The Ministers also welcomed the initiative of the FAO Director-General for the FAO Trust Fund in order to fight against world hunger.

21. Pursuant to the mandate given by the Leaders at the Third ASEAN Informal Summit on 28 November 1999, the ASEAN Ministers will hold its first Meeting with the Ministers of Agriculture and the Ministers of Forestry from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (AMAF Plus Three) on 5 October 2001. The forum will discuss the mechanism of cooperation in food, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry among ASEAN Member Countries and the Plus Three Countries.

22. The Ministers from ASEAN Member Countries expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of Indonesia for hosting the 23rd Meeting of AMAF for their warm hospitality. The next AMAF Meeting would be hosted by Lao PDR in October 2002.

Medan, North Sumatera

5 October 2001.