Distinguished experts and FAO colleagues:
On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jacques Diouf, and on my own behalf, I have the honour and pleasure to welcome you to Bangkok for the Regional workshop for the review of draft international standards for phytosanitary measures. I am delighted that experts from 20 countries, the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC) and FAO are participating in this important workshop..
The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) is grateful for the opportunity to host this event. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the IPPC Secretariat for their support. FAO is also indebted to you, the participants, for taking time away from your homes, families, and work to contribute to the global and regional harmonization of phytosanitary measures with your expert inputs.
As you are aware, this is the sixth meeting in the Asia-Pacifc region to examine and discuss the draft international standards on phytosanitary measures (ISPMs). The first one was held by FAO in Bangkok in 2000, followed by meetings in 2001, 2002 and – again in Bangkok – the fifth meeting in this series in 2004.
Since last year, three new ISPMs and the revised ISPM No.3 have been adopted by the seventh session of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (ICPM) in April 2005, while the amendments of ISPM No.5 were adopted with the exception of two terms. As a result, the total number of ISPMs now stands at 24. In addition, the IPPC Secretariat has developed five drafts of new ISPMs which are now under review and consultation at country and regional levels.
The specific purpose of this workshop is to discuss and comment upon the six draft ISPMs that are under consultation, thus facilitating the process of formulation of your national comments. It is expected that you provide your individual country comments to the IPPC Secretariat for consideration by the Standards Committee at its session in November. Based on these comments, the drafts will be amended and, if appropriate, subsequently presented as drafts to the Eighth Session of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures to be held in Rome in 2006.
The report of this workshop – in the form of reasoned and accurate comments on the draft standards – will be forward to the IPPC Secretariat, but I wish to emphasize that you have to provide your individual country comments by the deadline of 30 September 2005.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The five draft standards are:
Guidelines for consignments in transit
Revision of ISPM No. 1: Principles for the protection of plant health
Diagnostic protocols for regulated pests
Requirements for the submission of phytosanitary treatments, and
Requirements for the establishment and maintenance of pest free areas for fruitflies
Meetings such as this provide critical insight from the interaction of colleagues with different viewpoints and experiences. The results of your discussions not only improve the quality of the draft standards but also lead to wider understanding on key issues. This consultative process – in the end – will generate standards that have a high level of credibility, acceptability, and understanding. It is therefore extremely important to share experiences, information and knowledge and engage in constructive dialogue during the workshop in order to stimulate further ideas, reach a better understanding of different views, and – hopefully – will result in agreement.
Although the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has a long history as the international reference point for phytosanitary measures, you may recall that it has a relatively short history – less than 10 years – of standard-setting. The regional consultations we had during the past years were, by all measures, extremely successful in this respect. The Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures recognized this and has encouraged the continuation of such consultations in this region and the implementation of similar initiatives in other regions. In this regard, these consultations serve not only to improve standards, but also as an important means of capacity building.
As you know, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures requires that countries base their sanitary and phytosanitary measures on international standards or pest risk assessment. In addition, the SPS Agreement names the IPPC as the organization responsible for international standards for plant protection. This significant and important relationship of the IPPC to the WTO and its strong links to trade concerns is of great relevance to the countries of the Asia and Pacific region. Needless to emphasize the importance of international phytosanitary standards to developing countries in the facilitation of trade in plants and plant products. You will also be aware of the development of Technical Panels that will lead to the formulation of specific standards, ones that will refer to a specific pest or relate to a commodity, which in turn will provide the detailed rules to assist with the movement of plant products and the sharper definition of market access requirements.
During this meeting, our main interest is to ensure that adequate guidance is provided by national phytosanitary experts on new standards under development by the IPPC. It is an opportunity to be actively involved in global standard-setting and also to ensure that such standards are appropriate for implementation by governments.
Personally, I hold this annual meeting as a commendable example of the way in which the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Secretariat of the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission can assist developing countries to take part in international standard setting activities as mandated by its role in coordinating normative work for plant protection activities in the region.
I encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity to review and comment individually and collectively on the standards, recognizing that you may also identify issues of concern to your country and follow up afterward with additional consultations and further comments.
In conclusion, I would like to extend once again a very cordial welcome to you all. I have no doubt that with the participation of distinguished phytosanitary experts and professionals, the workshop will be a highly productive consultation. You may rest assured that the outcome of your deliberations will receive due attention by FAO and that the Organization will strive to ensure the effective and timely implementation and extension of international standards.
Again, I wish you all a successful meeting and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.