and my FAO colleagues:
On behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Dr Jaques Diouf, and on my own behalf, I have the honour and great pleasure to welcome you all, as members of the Standards Committee for the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC), at this FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO-RAP).
As you know, I have just recently been appointed as Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, so I have not had the chance to meet you before. However, I look forward to getting to know you in the future and the work that you will be doing as members of the APPPC Standards Committee.
Of the work that is supported by FAO, I believe that the normative function is one of the most important. This work uses all the facilities of the FAO – its scientific background, its expert involvement in agriculture and forestry, its role as a neutral forum for consultations – formal and informal, its services to collect, assemble and disseminate information, and its knowledge and involvement in production and trade. I am very pleased that RAP, is able to facilitate this important APPPC work on phytosanitary standards in Asia and the Pacific, which is a part of FAO’s normative programme in this very important area of phytosanitary.
I understand that this meeting is the first meeting of the APPPC Standards Committee. The Commission has worked very efficiently to develop the APPPC Regional Standard Setting Procedural Guidelines at meetings held last year (and I know that many of you were involved in this process) and to have them adopted at the 22nd biennial Session of the APPPC held in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2001. I have had a look at the Procedural Guidelines in the report of the 22nd Session and am impressed with the order, the clarity and the comprehensiveness of the guidelines. The work and effort you have put into these guidelines will stand you in good stead in the future.
I noticed that in June 2002 a working group meeting was convened to draft the standards for your consideration during this meeting. It is gratifying to note that you have been able to draft these standards at such a short notice. Australian experts have been most helpful by providing an initial draft of standard on guidelines for the development of heat disinfestation treatment of fruit fly host commodities. I compliment you on the efficiency and quality of the work. Both the draft on the heat disinfestation treatments and that on training requirements for plant quarantine inspectors will be excellent guidelines for your colleagues in national plant protection organizations throughout the region.
During the meeting, you will consider these draft standards and modified them as necessary. The revised documents will be sent to all members of the APPPC for their comments as part of the consultative procedure in developing the standards. We hope that by next year, you will have one more opportunity to consider the comments and incorporate them into the standards, before submitting for consideration by the Commission session in Malaysia. Hopefully, you will be able to adopt the draft standards at the 23rd Session of the APPPC in Malaysia late next year.
Mr. Chairman, in line with the theme of this Consultation, let me now turn to quote the following recommendation on Information Network for your kind attention which was raised by the Standing Committee on Plant Quarantine and adopted by the 22nd biennial Session of the APPPC.
After considerable discussion, the Standing Committee on Plant Quarantine identified the area of information networking as important with many countries requiring assistance. The Committee recommended the formation of a sub-committee with the following terms of reference.
The sub-committee on information networking was asked to report to the 23rd Session of the APPPC on:
• Plan for the development of an information exchange mechanism.
• Information priorities for the region.
• Sources of sponsorship.
• A means of helping countries with lesser advanced systems.
• Liaise with the IPPC Secretariat (International Phytosanitary Portal – IPP).
• Review of other information systems.
• Ensure mechanisms are not too complex.
It is proposed that the sub-committee be chaired by Malaysia with Committee members from Australia, China and Vietnam.
We are pleased to find here with us Mr. Dave Norwell, expert from the Plant Protection Service at FAO Headquarters in Rome to introduce and discuss on the above points emphasizing on the new development on International Phytosanitary Portal (IPP) and suggesting the member countries of the APPPC on the information sharing issues.
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), the FAO-APPPC has been playing a notable role in the extension of the development of various areas of plant quarantine to prevent the spread of dangerous exotic plant pests and diseases through international trade of agri-produce. It is a pleasure to note that most of the countries in the region have recognized the importance of the role on phytosanitary measure 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 which are being developed by FAO-IPPC in co-operation with concerned international organizations.
In conclusion, I would like to extend again a most cordial welcome to you all. I wish you have a successful and constructive discussion on the preparation of a first draft of APPPC Regional Phytosanitary Standards and get ready to move into the consultation process. I have the confidence that the standards will be adopted next year in Malaysia, and you will soon be the fourth regional body that have produced regional phytosanitary standards, after EPPO, NAPPO and COSAVE. I would assure you that FAO will continue to do what it can to support the APPPC in its standard setting activities and to support the implementation of the standards amongst the phytosanitary agencies in the region.