1. The Honourable Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, officially opened the Twenty-fifth Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) which was held on 21 August 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and attended by:

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

H.E. Mr. Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia

Honourable Dr. Fatuchri Sukadi, Director-General of Aquaculture, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia

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

H.E. Dato’ Sri (Dr.) Mohd. Effendi Norwawi, Minister of Agriculture, Malaysia

H.E. Dato’ Seri Haji Mohd. Sharif Haji Omar, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Malaysia
 
H.E Dato’ Anifah Haji Aman, Deputy Minister of Primary Industries, Malaysia

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

H.E. Mr. Luis P. Lorenzo, Jr., Secretary of Agriculture, the Philippines

H.E. Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, Singapore

H.E. Mr. Sora-at Klinpratoom, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand

H.E Dr. Bui Ba Bong, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam

H.E. Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Secretary – General of ASEAN, and their delegations.

The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Dato’ Sri (Dr.) Mohd. Effendi Norwawi, Minister of Agriculture of Malaysia and H.E. Major General Nyunt Tin, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of Myanmar was the Vice – Chairman.

2. The Ministers recognized that ASEAN is a region with abundant land, fishery and forestry resources. Agriculture commodities and forestry products remain important contributors to the economies in most ASEAN Member Countries despite the industrialization throughout much of the region in recent years. For these reasons, food, agriculture and forestry remain high priority sectors for ASEAN cooperation.

3. In spite of the rapid changes in the global market and impact on the agriculture and forestry sectors as well as of the structural changes within these sectors as a result of globalization, ASEAN strives to provide adequate levels of food supply and food accessibility within ASEAN and at the same time, enhance the competitiveness of its food, agriculture and forestry products through developing appropriate technologies to increase productivity and by promoting intra- and extra–ASEAN trade and greater private sector investment in the food, agriculture and forestry sector.

4.  The Ministers agreed to review the results of the implementation of the Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (1999-2004), as well as the Hanoi Plan of Action (1999-2004), which will be expired at the end of 2004. The review will be useful in assessing of the achievements, constraints and emerging issues that will form a basis for a new “road map” in the new phase of the 5-year Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (2005-2009).

5. The Ministers stressed the importance for ASEAN to cooperate closely in the area of forestry, particularly in achieving sustainable forest management (SFM) by adopting a phased approah timber certification scheme using internationally recognized criteria and indicator for SFM. In this regard, the Ministers expressed satisfaction over the progress of works under the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Pan ASEAN Timber Certification Initiative. The Ministers agreed that there is a need for ASEAN to further collaborate on timber certification at regional and international levels.

6 The Ministers noted that timber and timber products are important items being traded among some ASEAN countries. However, recent developments have affected the flow of these merchandise items which are vital to meet economic and social needs of affected countries. It is important for ASEAN countries concerned to work closely towards bringing about the regularization of trade in forest products. In this connection, the Ministers welcomed the initiative by Malaysia to host a meeting of the Ministers for forestry of ASEAN to be held in Malaysia in 2004.

7. The Ministers noted the importance of multilateral negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), in particular of the agriculture negotiations. The expeditious conclusion of the agriculture negotiations defined by modalities fully consistent with the Doha Development Agenda is important to establish a fair trade for agriculture, thus allowing for increasing world trade in agriculture products while enabling all Members, in particular, developing and least developed countries, the enjoyment of their just benefits under the multilateral trading system.

8. The Ministers, however, expressed concerns over the unfair trade that has affected the ASEAN’s food, agriculture and forestry products. In this regard, the Minister agreed to form a special task force to look closely into the matters, and propose actions as well as to forge the ASEAN joint approach to collectively address the key international and regional issues and problems on these trade barriers.

9. The Ministers also expressed their full support to the accession of Cambodia to the WTO at the coming Cancun Ministerial Meeting in September 2003.

10. In order to enhance competitiveness and promote trade in agricultural commodities and forestry products in the regional and global markets, ASEAN continues efforts in the harmonization/ standardization of measures and regulations with regard to the food, agriculture and forestry sectors. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is fast becoming a reality. By 2015, tariff rates under chapters 1 – 24 for agriculture products and chapters 44 – 49 for forestry products, will be below 5% or totally eliminated, except for those in the highly sensitive lists. This will help pave the way for enhanced trade in food, agriculture and forestry products in the region.

11. Tariff reduction alone is not the only factor that can promote and encourage trade. Technical requirements and procedures, such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures as well as other similar measures to ensure the quality and standard of products, become impediments to trade if they remain non-transparent and unjustifiable.

12. The Ministers emphasized the need for agricultural and forestry products to be of high quality, conforming to internationally recognized standards in order to be competitive in the international markets. Toward this end, the Ministers commended the continued collective efforts by Member Countries to work on ASEAN criteria for accreditation of livestock and livestock product establishments. These criteria will ensure the use of good practices in animal production and processing in ASEAN.

13. Under the programme on Regularization of Production and Utilization of Animal Vaccines, ASEAN continues its collective efforts to work on the harmonization of ASEAN standards for animal vaccines. The Ministers endorsed an additional 4 animal vaccine standards. To date, the total number of animal vaccine standards that have been endorsed by AMAF is 48. The Ministers also agreed that following the accreditation last year, the Veterinary Drug Assay Laboratory (VDAL) in Gunung Sindur, Bogor, Indonesia will be awarded a Certificate from the Secretary – General of ASEAN.

14. Furthermore, the Ministers endorsed an additional 105 maximum residue limits (MRLs) values of 8 pesticides for various vegetables, fruits, and cash crops which are being widely traded between ASEAN Member Countries. Thus, the total number of MRLs values that have been endorsed, to-date, is 369, involving a total of 28 pesticides. In the absence of relevant codex standards on MRLs, efforts should be made to generate regional data for products of interest to ASEAN for submission to Codex for purposes of developing international standards. 

15. The Ministers supported Singapore’s initiative in establishing an ASEAN Genetically Modified (GM) Food Testing Network to help ASEAN Member Countries better utilize the expertise and available resources in the region as well as gain better access to information on developing capabilities for GM food testing. 

16. The Ministers agreed to the establishment of an ASEAN Plant Health Cooperation Network to harmonise and coordinate regional capacity – building in quarantine and plant health. The network would come up with various projects to improve capacity building in SPS to facilitate market access of ASEAN agricultural products to the international market.

17. The Ministers agreed to the establishment of an ASEAN Technical Working Group on Agricultural Research and Development. The new working group is to improve the knowledge flow and exchange on agriculture R&D in Southeast Asia under the auspices of ASEAN.

18. The Ministers also agreed to the establishment of the ASEAN Food Safety Network and assigned Thailand to be the focal point of the initiative. The network on ASEAN Food Safety will provide recommendations for better coordinated efforts for the ASEAN working groups to help resolve recurring problems of non-tariff barriers encountered in the trade of food and agricultural products from ASEAN.

19. Recognizing that rice is the most important staple food for the ASEAN Member Countries, as reflected in its logo of ten stalks of paddy representing the Member Countries bounded together in friendship and solidarity, the Ministers reaffirmed their support and accorded priority to celebrate the UN declared International Year of Rice (IYR) 2004 to promote increased production and access to this vital food crop.  Regional commemorative activities of the IYR were also endorsed by the Ministers, with particular and due recognition to the region’s rice farmers.
 
20. The Ministers were informed on the 2nd Session of the Global Forum on Food Safety Regulators to be hosted by Thailand in 2004 and the International Horticulture Exposition to be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2006. Furthermore, the Ministers took note of the Agriculture, Horticulture and Agro-tourism (MAHA) Show which will be held in Malaysia in October 2004.

21. The Ministers was also informed on a collaborative effort being carried out under the Asia Forest Partnership (AFP), which is considered a useful regional forum to build partnership among governments, civil society, and the private sector to promote sustainable forest management in Asia.

22. The Ministers will hold their third Meeting with the Ministers of Agriculture and the Ministers of Forestry from the People Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (AMAF + 3) on 22 August 2003. The Meeting will discuss the progress of activities that have been undertaken during the past year and exchange views on how to further develop the cooperation.

23. The Ministers from other ASEAN Member Countries expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of Malaysia for hosting the 25th Meeting of AMAF and for their warm hospitality. The next AMAF meeting would be hosted by Myanmar in 2004.

21 August 2003