Only about 30% of trade of ASEAN Member States is within ASEAN. In its current strategy paper the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has accordingly determined that trade within the region needs to be increased. Agriculture has been defined as a core sector: Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia trade heavily in agricultural goods within ASEAN.
However, the regulations on food safety and phytosanitary measures (and the associated processes) are not yet aligned between ASEAN Member States. Indeed, they are frequently not adapted to ASEAN directives, and the documents often not available in all relevant languages. In the least developed countries (LDCs) in ASEAN, relevant provisions are completely lacking in some cases, which removes a legal basis for market supervision of imports and exports, with inspections carried out erratically. These processes are also frequently inefficiently organised. The resulting obstacles to the flow of trade at the borders mean that agricultural goods are stuck at the border for long periods, with the risk of spoiling. Consistent quality of food cannot be guaranteed, and the costs of trade for companies rise.
To develop the recommendations for aligning regulatory framework and simplifying procedures for food safety and phytosanitary measures between selected ASEAN Member States and ASEAN
The project funded by Trade for Development fund is being implemented in collaboration with Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, focusing on the following areas of action:
Inventory of existing food safety regulations and phytosanitary measures for selected fruits and vegetables (i.e. chili, banana, dragon fruit, longan, lychee and mango) to identify gaps and barriers between the three countries;
Promote peer-to-peer learning and exchange between partner countries through capacity development and workshops as part to develop recommendations for possible alignment and simplification; and
Promote the adoption of good examples at regional level by supporting exchange of lessons learned with ASEAN