Distinguished experts and FAO colleagues:
On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jaques Diouf, and on my own behalf, I have the honour and great pleasure to welcome you to Bangkok for the APPPC Working Group meeting on Draft Regional Standards for Phytosanitary Measures.
The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is grateful to the government of Australia and for its financial support. Also special thanks are due to Mr. T.K. Lim for his consistent support, and Dr. John Hedley, Chairman of APPPC Standards Committee for his tremendous contribution.
FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO is a source of knowledge and information. We help developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. FAO also acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements, develop standards and debate policy.
One important area of work is the normative function. This function uses all the facilities of the FAO – its scientific background, its expertise, its role as an honest broker as well as rich data and information base, for consultations – formal and informal, on various issues related to agriculture, food security and nutrition. I am very pleased that the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific continues to avail of these facilities to work closely with experts from member countries on this second regional phytosanitary standards setting, which is a part of FAO’s normative programme in this important APPPC work.
I noticed that the RSPM Standard Committee has approved the new specifications with the help of Australian experts. It is gratifying to note that you have been able to develop these specifications in such a short time. Australian experts have been most helpful by providing initial drafts of the specifications and standards, on guidelines for pest free areas for fruit flies, and guidelines for determination of non-host fruit fly status. The first and second Regional Phytosanitary Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (RSPMs) were already adopted by the 23rd session of APPPC in 2003. The third and forth drafts of RSPMs to be produced by this meeting will be submitted to the RSPM Standard Committee for their review and approval, and subsequently send to all APPPC members for comments as part of the consultative procedure in developing the standards. We trust that by the end of the year, or beginning of next year, the Standard Committee will be able to consider and approve the draft standards. With anticipation, they will be submitted to the 24th APPPC session on time after adhering to the concerned procedures.
In line with the theme of this consultation, let me now turn to quote the following recommendations, raised by the Standing Committee on Plant Quarantine and adopted by the 23rd biennial session of the APPPC, for your kind attention:
- The Standing Committee noted with satisfaction the development and adoption of two regional phytosanitary standards.
- The Standing Committee decided to rephrase some parts of the TCP to ensure that the PRA is developed by a group of experts from within the region. Follow-up work to produce the standard is needed to facilitate the acceptance of part II of the revised Plant Protection Agreement for the Asia and Pacific region was emphasized.
- The Standing Committee supported the development of two standards: (i) Guidelines for pest free areas for fruit flies and (ii) Guidelines for determination of non-host fruit fly status.
- The Standing Committee noted the development of the APPPC website within the International Phytosanitary Portal (IPP). Technical assistance will be available through FAO to assist countries in learning to use the IPP and to develop their own information systems.
- The APPPC has also adopted two regional standards for phytosanitary measures (RSPMs) namely: RSPM-1 Guidelines for the Development of Heat Disinfestation Treatments of Fruitfly Host Commodities; and RSPM-2 Training Requirements for Plant Quarantine Inspectors
Eleven experts have been invited to draft relevant RSPMs according to the specification approved by the APPPC Standards Committee, for submission to the APPPC Standards Committee for review and approval.
I am very glad to note that, following its genesis and in line with the revised Agreement of the FAO International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), APPPC continues to play an important role in the further development of various areas of plant quarantine in Asia and the Pacific to prevent the spread of dangerous exotic plant pests and diseases through international trade of agri-products. It is a pleasure to note that most of the countries in the region have recognized the importance of the role of phytosanitary measures in the trade policy of agri-commodities, and to meet their obligations for the need of science-based pest and pathogen risk assessment under the WTO-SPS Agreement. Several countries in the region are emphasizing on the move to amend their current National Plant Quarantine Act, particularly to adjust the Standards in line with ISPMs.
In concluding, I wish you all to have constructive discussions on the preparation of the third and forth drafts of the APPPC Regional Phytosanitary Standards. I should also like to assure you that FAO will continue to do what it can to support the APPPC in its standard setting activities and to assist phytosanitary agencies in the region with the implementation of the standards.
Finally, I wish you all a pleasant stay in Bangkok.