Sustainable development of the food and agriculture sectors is among top priorities of ASEAN. The production of safe and tradable agri-food products is an essential component for the realisation of a single production and market in ASEAN. To this end, the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) has been cooperating in harmonizing quality standards and guidelines, and strengthening inspection and quarantine capacities with dialogue partners, such as China.
The partnership for the ASEAN and China mutual benefit was reinforced at the 3rd China-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SPS Cooperation)last week in Nanning, China, with the theme “Strengthening Cooperation and Serving the Construction of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area”. The Meeting was held in conjunction with the 9th China-ASEAN EXPO.
“On the agricultural trade side, ASEAN Member States and China are signatories to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Organization International des Epizooties(OIE), and the Codex Alimentairius Commission, as well as to the World Trade Organisation(WTO). However to gain maximum trade benefits from these memberships, ASEAN and China need to prioritise the development of systematic mechanisms and capacities that meet international standards and SPS requirements,” said Dr. Ty Phommasack, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR.
Along the same lines, Dr. ZhiShuping, Minister of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China, emphasized that“in the developmental progression of China-ASEAN economic and trade relationship, quality supervision has been playing an important and unique role, receiving close attention from the leaders of China and the ASEAN countries.”
To further enhance cooperation on SPS, the Meeting, among other things adopted the Plan of Action 2013-2014 and Joint Press Ministerial Statement, and agreed for the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and the People’s Republic of China on Strengthening SPS Cooperation. As a ministerial side event, the Ministers also officially launched the China-ASEAN SPS Cooperation portal website (http://www.chinaaseansps.com) with the view to facilitate SPS information exchange, enhance SPS communication, and support implementation of the SPS MoU Cooperation.
The Meeting was co-chaired by Dr. ZhiShuping and Dr. Ty Phommasack, representing the AMAF Chairman; and attended by other agriculture ministers and senior officials from ASEAN, China, and ASEAN Secretariat.