Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
delivered at the

23 - 27 August 2004
Bangkok, Thailand

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 as many as 29 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 again grateful for the opportunity to host this important meeting. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the IPPC Secretariat for their support, and to the government of Australia for the provision of funding to make this meeting possible. 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 fifth meeting in the region to examine and discuss the draft international standards on phytosanitary measures (ISPMs). The first one was held at FAO Bangkok in 2000, followed by meetings in 2001 and 2002. Last year the fourth meeting in this series was held in association with the Twenty Third Session of APPPC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Since that time, two new ISPMs and one supplement on ISPM 11 have been adopted by the sixth session of Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (ICPM) in April 2004. As a result, the total number of ISPMs now stands at 21. In addition, the IPPC Secretariat has developed six 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. The comments from this meeting will be considered by the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (ICPM) Standards Committee in November 2004, along with individual country comments, and subsequently presented as drafts to the Seventh Session of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures to be held in Rome in 2005.

The output of this meeting – in the form of reasoned and accurate comments on the draft standards – will be forward to the IPPC Secretariat, from you as a group here this week as well as by your countries individually by the deadline of the 30 September 2004.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The six draft standards are:
•  guidelines for the export, shipment, import and release of biological control agents and beneficial organisms;
•  requirements for the establishment, maintenance and verification of areas of low pest prevalence;
•  guidelines on the concept of equivalence of phytosanitary measures and its application in international trade;
•  guidelines for consignments in transit;
•  guidelines for inspection of consignments; and
•  amendments to ISPM number 5 (Glossary of phytosanitary terms).

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 generates standards which have a high level of credibility, acceptability, and understanding. It is therefore extremely important to share experiences, information and knowledge and engage in constructive dialogues 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 the harmonization of 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 nations 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 development 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 first class example of the way in which the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific 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 individually and collectively review and comment on the standards, recognizing that you may also identify issues of concern to your country and follow-up afterward with additional consultation 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 of FAO and the organization will strive to ensure their effective and timely implementation and extension.

Again, I wish you all a successful meeting and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.