1. H.E. General Khin Nyunt, the Prime Minister of Myanmar, officially opened the Twenty-sixth Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) which was held on 7 October 2004 in Yangon, Myanmar
2. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Major General Htay Oo, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar and H.E. Mr. Arthur C. Yap, Secretary of Agriculture, the Philippines was the Vice – Chairman.
3. The Ministers exchanged views on the global and regional situation and recent economic developments related to the food, agriculture and forestry sector.
4. In view of recent outbreaks of bird flu i.e. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in some ASEAN Member Countries, the Ministers agreed to establish a Task Force under the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Livestock to coordinate cooperation for the control and eradication of HPAI in the region. Recognizing the potential adverse impact of HPAI on global public health, poultry production, trade and economic development, the Ministers urged the Senior Officials (SOM-AMAF) to implement this activity as soon as possible. The first meeting of the Task Force will be held in Singapore.
5. The Ministers emphasised the importance of food safety in the region and agreed on regional food safety standards. In this regard, the Ministers endorsed an additional 86 maximum residue limits (MRLs) of 8 pesticides for various vegetables, fruits, and cash crops which are being traded widely among ASEAN Member Countries. Thus, the total number of MRLs that have been endorsed, to-date, is 455, involving a total of 36 pesticides.
6. The Ministers stressed the importance for ASEAN to stay united and adopt common stands for policy deliberations in overcoming many barriers to trade in ASEAN’s food, agriculture and forest products. To achieve this, the Ministers were hopeful that the establishment of the ASEAN Food Safety Network should provide better coordinated efforts for ASEAN to help resolve recurring problems of non-tariff barriers encountered in the trade of food and agricultural products. Thailand, as the lead country, had developed the website (www.aseanfoodsafetynetwork.net) to provide useful information on food safety. In the area of forestry, the establishment of an ASEAN Ad-hoc Experts Working Group on International Forest Policy Process (EWG-IFPP) should help to serve as a dialogue mechanism for regional cooperation in the implementation of the international forest regime.
7. The Ministers also agreed to the proposed establishment of the ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund, aimed at undertaking all efforts to make the ASEAN region free from Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) and other transboundary animal diseases. The Fund will facilitate the implementation of unified and harmonized animal health programs within the ASEAN region.
8. The Ministers recognized the significant role and function of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) in the promotion of sustainable fisheries in the ASEAN region, and expressed their appreciation to SEAFDEC and Japan for their contributions. In particular, the Ministers acknowledged the success of the “Seminar on ASEAN-Japan Cooperation for Sustainable Fisheries through SEAFDEC”, which was held on 3-5 December 2003, Tokyo, Japan, for commemorating the ASEAN-Japan Exchange Year 2003. The Ministers endorsed the Statement from the Seminar including the ASEAN Vision: “To be a leader in Sustainable Tropical Fisheries for the People”, and agreed that ASEAN-Japan cooperation in fisheries through SEAFDEC, should be further strengthened.
9. The Ministers endorsed the ASEAN statement on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to develop regional solutions to implement CITES for presentation at the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES to be held on 11 October 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Statement acknowledged the need for closer cooperation among national agencies, strengthening enforcement, encouraging scientific research and trade monitoring; and urging potential donors to provide technical and financial supports.
10. As this year is declared International Year of Rice (IYR), the Ministers commended all Member Countries for their efforts in undertaking activities to commemorate IYR in their respective countries.
11. Recognising the importance of rice to the region, and the need for further support for rice research, the Ministers urged international donors to strengthen their support to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). It is envisaged that enhanced ties in specific areas of cooperation should provide benefits to the region’s rice farmers and consumers.
12. In support of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and in recognition of the International Year of Rice 2004, the Ministers endorses a ten year, three point plan focussing on the vitally important rice production challenges of water scarcity, global warming and inadequate human resources. ASEAN and its partners invite the International Rice Research Institute and other concerned agencies of ASEAN to develop a detailed blue print for the plan and coordinate its implementation to minimise the impact of these major threats to ASEAN rice production.
13. Similarly, further resource mobilisation for agriculture and rural development in the ASEAN members is essential as agriculture plays a dominant role in improving food security and poverty reduction. More investment in the sector will create more employment and improve economic growth. The Ministers endorses the declaration on “Investing Agriculture for Food Security and Poverty Reduction’’ with a thrust of reiterating political commitment to the World Food Summit targets and enhancing public investment in agriculture for hunger and poverty eradication in ASEAN.
14. The Ministers underscored the importance of the agriculture and forestry sectors in the ASEAN economy as recognized by the ASEAN Leaders during their Summit in Bali in 2003. To help realize the establishment of ASEAN as a single market and production base, characterized by free movement of goods, services, investment, and a freer flow of capital, closer cooperation and integration activities, it was important that regional efforts continue to promote the competitiveness of the agriculture and forestry sectors in each Member Country.
15. The Ministers reviewed the results of the implementation of the Strategic Plan of Action (SPA) on ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (1999-2004) as presented by the SOM – AMAF. In the formulation of the next phase of the SPA, the Ministers agreed that ASEAN cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry maintain the current strategic thrusts. For food and agriculture, the strategic thrusts are (i) Strengthening Food Security Arrangements in the Region; (ii) Enhancement of International Competitiveness of ASEAN Food and Agricultural Products/ Commodities; (ii) Enhancement of ASEAN Cooperation and Joint Approaches in International and Regional Issues; (iv) Development Acceleration of Transfer and Adoption of New Technologies; (v) Enhancement of Private Sector Involvement; and (vi) Management, Sustainable Utilisation and Conservation of Natural Resources. For the forestry, the strategic thrusts are (i) Ensuring Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and Conservation of Natural Resources; (ii) Strengthening ASEAN’s Cooperation and Joint Approaches in Addressing International and Regional Forestry Issues; (iii) Promotion on Intra and Extra-ASEAN Trade in Forest Products and Private Sector Participation; (iv) Increasing Productivity Efficiency and Sustainable Utilisation of Forest Products; and (v) Capacity Building and Human Resources Development. New issues would be incorporated as newly proposed activities for cooperation.
16. The Ministers endorsed the Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (2005 – 2010) as it will play an important role in guiding cooperation activities in the region, and urged the SOM-AMAF and all subsidiary and ancillary bodies concerned to prepare the detailed work plans to implement their respective plan of actions. The Ministers also endorsed the Vientiane Action Programme for food, agriculture and forestry to submit it to the ASEAN Leaders at the coming ASEAN Summit in Vientiane in November 2004.
17. In line with the priority to strengthen the competitiveness of ASEAN products, the Ministers agreed to extend the MOU on ASEAN Cooperation in Agriculture and Forest Products Promotion Scheme for another five years as it remains relevant and continues to serve as the basis to pursue cooperation with the private sector and to coordinate joint positions on issues related to trade in ASEAN agriculture and forest products. In line with new developments in international fora and conventions, the Ministers tasked the SOM-AMAF to review the MOU.
18. The Ministers fully endorsed the implementation of a capacity building programme to help improve agriculture competitiveness in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam. Efforts will be taken to mobilise donor resources to implement the three – year programme on “Strengthening Human Resource Capacities for Agriculture Competitiveness of the Transitional Economies of ASEAN through Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries” to train scholars, trainers, and officials from these countries.
19. The Ministers from ASEAN Member Countries expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of Myanmar for hosting the 26th Meeting of AMAF and for their warm hospitality. The next AMAF meeting will be hosted by the Philippines in 2005.
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LIST OF MINISTERS
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. Memed Gunawan, Secretary General, Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesia
H.E. Dr. Siene Saphangthong, Minister of Agriculture & Forestry, Lao PDR
H.E. Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd. Yassin, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Malaysia
H.E. Major General Htay Oo, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar
H.E. Mr. Arthur C. Yap, Secretary of Agriculture, the Philippines
H.E. Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, Singapore
H.E. Mr. Suphot Dhirakaosal, Ambassador of Thailand to the Union of Myanmar
H.E. Dr. Bui Ba Bong, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam