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Regulatory Cooperation in ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices


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Regulatory Cooperation in ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices by Catherine Frances J. Corpuz, Senior Program Officer, ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program.
Presented at the ReSAKSS-Asia - MIID conference "Evolving Agrifood Systems in Asia: Achieving food and nutrition security by 2030" on Oct 30-31, 2019 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Published in: Food
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Regulatory Cooperation in ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices

  1. 1. Regulatory Cooperation in ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices Catherine Frances Corpuz Senior Program Officer, AADCP II 31 October 2019 Yangon, Myanmar
  2. 2. Agriculture in ASEAN • The value of ASEAN agri-based exports, both within and outside the region, grew significantly, but the share of intra-ASEAN exports of agri-based products over total ASEAN exports has stagnated. • As trade tariffs have fallen in the region for most sectors but NTBs and TBTs, notably product standards and certification are considered to be the most significant obstacles to expanding intra-ASEAN trade. o High incidence of NTMs in the food sector (Chaponniere and Lautier, 2016; Sally, 2014; RSIS, 2013); o They attract a higher level of regulations for food safety or food security reasons (Duval and Feyler, 2016; Chaponniere and Lautier, 2016); and o Diverse national standards and regulations (RSIS, 2013; Pettman, 2013; USAID, 2013; Norani, 2014).
  3. 3. Common International Standards • The SPS Agreement requires that SPS measures adopted by WTO members must be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances, using techniques developed by one of the three formally recognised international standard setting bodies, namely: o Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) – food safety and quality standards o World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) – standards relating to animal health and zoonoses o International Plant Health Convention (IPHC) – standards pertaining to plant health • The TBT Agreement covers regulations, standards and testing and certification procedures in general that are not covered by the SPS (e.g. packaging and labelling aspects not related to food safety).
  4. 4. ASEAN Agri-Food Standards and Guidelines Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) refer to approaches, which address the sustainability of on-farm processes, to ensure safety and quality of food and non-food agricultural products (FAO, 2003)
  5. 5. • ASEAN Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for fruits and vegetables: o food safety o environmental management o worker health/safety/welfare o produce quality • ASEAN Good Aquaculture Practice (GAqP) for food fish o food safety o animal health and welfare o environmental integrity o socioeconomic aspects • ASEAN Good Animal Husbandry Practice (GAHP) for broilers and layers o food Safety Coverage of the Standards and Guidelines
  6. 6. • Regulatory heterogeneity among AMS is a challenge for harmonising standards as well the certification and accreditation processes; • Standards must also be properly and consistently implemented and enforced; • Lack of awareness among farmers and producers; • Costs and risks associated with the adoption of the standards and guidelines; • Small farmers require stronger linkage to supply chains; • Aligning ASEAN agri-food standards with extra-ASEAN standards; • Quality assurance inconsistencies across borders also create uncertainty for buyers, limiting their demand for agri-food products from within the region. Implementation Bottlenecks
  7. 7. • A Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) is an arrangement or agreement between countries to establish a framework for acceptance of differences in trade partners’ standards and/or conformity assessment bodies based on a reasonable determination that an appropriate level of protection (to consumers, plants/animals, environment, and/or workers) can be provided. • An alternative to an MRA to achieve at least a similar level of standards integration is ‘harmonization’ of standards. Harmonization involves the relevant standards in one country being written and enforced exactly the same as in a trade partner country.  Given the variation of current standards across ASEAN, full harmonization of production standards across all ten AMS may not be an achievable objective in the foreseeable future. However, the proposed MRA does introduce an element of the principal of harmonization related to recognition of conformity assessment bodies, as all AMS shall meet the relevant international standards (ISO). ASEAN Agri-food MRA
  8. 8. Inclusive Way Forward Diagram taken from: GOMA Project, 2012
  9. 9. Three regional consultations with AMS delegates to present and deliberate MRA model options
  10. 10. Assessment of the Proposed MRA Criteria Assessment Governance Risks Few governance risks foreseen relative to other available models, as all AMS shall be engaged in the MRA implementation mechanisms regardless of readiness status. AMS representatives shall control voting rights on the JSC. A procedure for selecting private sector representatives will have to be agreed and maintained to avoid perceived favoritism/bias. Compatibility with existing ASEAN Institutions All 10 AMS will be invited and encouraged to sign and participate in the implementation mechanisms, consistent with the ASEAN Framework Agreement on MRAs. Additionally, recognition of CABs will be conducted in a manner consistent with the ASEAN Guidelines for Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Compatibility with existing AMS institutions The Unconditional Plurilateral option is compatible with all 10 AMS institutional capacity, as they may participate on, and help shape the MRA from day 1 regardless of capacity. Capacity Requirements Two Milestones must be met by AMS for full participation (e.g. import and export benefits): 1) At least one National Standard is upgraded to align with ASEAN Standards, 2) CAB upgrading to meet relevant international standards. Trade Enhancement Effects Aggregate trade enhancement impacts are expected to grow as the full engagement of all member states in the arrangement increases. Integrating views and concerns of the private sector may bolster the positive impact on trade. Successful implementation in other jurisdictions Plurilateral agreements are successfully operating among subsets of WTO Members, such as WTO “Revised Agreement on Government Procurement.” Other existing ASEAN Sectoral MRAs have successfully engaged the private sector, including the MRA on Electrical and Electronic Equipment, the MRA on Cosmetics, and the MRA on Tourism Professionals. Implementation Costs There should be little supra-national implementation costs at the operational level. The most significant implementation costs will include capacity building in less-developed AMS to support their efforts to meet Milestone 1 and 2. Additional implementation costs should be assumed for outreach/awareness building among producers and buyers across the 10 AMS. Implementation Risks The Unconditional Plurilateral approach reduces risks of implementation delays, and enables ready AMS to engage immediately. Farm-level Impacts Smallholder capacity building is necessary across AMS to support ASEAN Standards compliance. Engaging buy-side actors may result in their promotion of the ASEAN Standards to their suppliers, creating a market-based incentive for farm-level uptake. Inclusiveness The Unconditional Plurilateral option provides all AMS voting representation on the JSC and TCs from Day 1, regardless of capacity. Nonetheless, further- developed AMS are likely to be more active in the early stages of implementation while less-developed AMS seek to comply with Milestone 1 and Milestone 2. Resource distribution, national exchanges, and capacity building will be necessary to ensure less-developed AMS are not neglected and are supported to meet Milestone 1 and Milestone 2 in a timely fashion.
  11. 11. The Multilateral Arrangement for the Mutual Recognition of Agri-food Standards and Conformity Assessment (MAMRASCA) • Provides a framework for accepting differences in national standards and conformity assessment bodies across ASEAN, provided certain conditions (milestones) are met by Member States. • All 10 AMS will participate in the implementation and oversight of MAMRASCA upon signing. • AMS may increase their participation on a phased basis, once they meet the required milestones. Proposed MRA Model: MAMRASCA
  12. 12. • Milestone 1: AMS will undergo an agreed standards assessment process to ensure national standards are aligned with the ASEAN standards, or they may choose to adopt the ASEAN Standards. The agreed principles and procedures for standards alignment are: o Principles for Alignment: Consistency, Objectivity, Transparency, and Expert Consultation. o Instruments for Alignment: Alignment Assessment Matrix, and Guide for Standards Alignment (developed by EWG-OA and EWG-GAP) o Procedures for Alignment: 1) AMS Self-Assessment, 2) Peer Review with Technical Committee, 3) Resolution of Issues and Group Validation with JSC • Milestone 2: AMS will verify that national Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) including accreditation bodies, certification bodies, labs, and testing facilities adhere to relevant international standards (consistent with the ASEAN Guidelines for Accreditation and Conformity Assessment) Readiness Milestones
  13. 13. • Joint Sectoral Committee (JSC): the primary regional institution comprised of one representative from each AMS. The JSC will promote and raise awareness of MAMRASCA, facilitate standards alignment assessments, and list/de-list conformity assessment bodies. • Technical Committees (TCs): sector-specific regional institutions comprised of one expert representative from each AMS. The TCs will regularly review/revise the ASEAN Standards, conduct peer reviews for standards alignment assessments, and carry out sector-specific workplans. • Designating Bodies (DBs): national level institution appointed in each AMS tasked with identifying, nominating, and monitoring conformity assessments operating within their jurisdiction for listing on MAMRASCA. Institutional Arrangements
  14. 14. • Among the most significant challenges facing the proliferation of the ASEAN Standards across AMS is limited awareness, and therefore limited demand from private sector buyers.  If buyers don’t require compliance with a particular standard from their suppliers then there is no incentive for the farmer/producer to adopt the standard. • Engaging private sector stakeholders in food production, sourcing, trading, and marketing functions across the ASEAN region will promote buyer awareness, expand buy-in, and increase producer uptake  A select group of regional buy-side and supply-side companies, and member-based organizations representing agribusiness interests across AMS will be invited to participate in an observer/advisory role on the sector specific Technical Committees. Private Sector Engagement
  15. 15. • For developing AMS, the implementation of MAMRASCA will not immediately open up agri-food markets that were previously difficult to access. • MAMRASCA should also not be expected to be a panacea for buyers. It is expected that many private sector food buyers will continue to rely on private voluntary standards, their own proprietary commercial standards, internationally recognized ethical standards, and product quality standards. • Developed AMS need not fear that implementation of MAMRASCA will lead to the reduction of their own national standards or an inability to enforce other regulations currently on the books related to imported foods. Managing Expectations
  16. 16. • Establish an MRA Task Force o Oversee drafting of MRA Text • Conduct a Needs Assessment o To identify specific institutional upgrading, capacity building requirements for AMS to meet the two readiness milestones. o To better inform AMS of their institutional commitments, and will support the ability to identify and secure funding for developing AMS to upgrade. Pre-Signature Steps to Establishing MAMRASCA
  17. 17. • Domestic Ratification o Includes any legislative changes necessary to implement MAMRASCA would be implemented (but none are expected for AMS to implement MAMRASCA). o Other domestic ratification steps necessary that will be specific to each AMS based on their sovereign governmental processes (TBD by each AMS). • Establish MAMRASCA Institutions o Dissolve MRA Task Force and establish the JSC and TCs o Each AMS will appoint an agency as a Designating Body for the purpose of nominating and monitoring conformity assessment bodies in their jurisdiction. • Technical assistance for relevant stakeholders and MRA promotional campaign Post-Signature Steps to Establishing MAMRASCA
  18. 18. To fully benefit, AMS must : • Enhance cooperation and transparency within and across national government departments, between ASEAN committees and bodies, and between AMS; • Endorse science-based international standards as the basis for regional measures and minimise specific national provisions in otherwise ‘common’ ASEAN or global standards; • Enhance technical expertise and the related infrastructure for conformity assessment; and, • Demonstrate political commitment at the highest levels to regulatory reform and harmonisation. Challenges in Regulatory Cooperation
  19. 19. For more information, contact the ASEAN Secretariat’s Food Agriculture and Forestry Division at or the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program at