Distinguished delegates and FAO colleagues,
On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mr Jacques Diouf, and on my own behalf, I have the honor and great pleasure to welcome you to Bangkok for the Regional Workshop on the Review of Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) for South American Leaf Blight (SALB) of Hevea rubber. The purpose of this workshop is for the APPPC Standing Committee of Plant Quarantine to review and finalize the Pest Risk Analysis for South American Leaf Blight of Hevea rubber.
As you all are well aware, the APPPC has been working on this PRA for some years now. The exercise really began when the Plant Protection Agreement for Asia and the Pacific region was revised and amended in 1999. This revision led to the realization that the annex to the agreement was not in alignment with the rules of the WTO Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS Agreement). This problem needs to be solved so that the Plant Protection Agreement for Asia and the Pacific region comes into alignment with the SPS Agreement and yet allows for the full protection of members by the provision of phytosanitary measures against this extremely important disease. This is to be achieved by the establishment of standards by the APPPC which cover full protection against SALB.
Upon governments’ requests for FAO’s assistance in facilitating the development of an acceptable PRA by providing training in PRA for SALB and SALB disease management, the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP): Pest Risk Analysis for South American Leaf Blight of rubber was approved in July 2001. FAO approved a Phase II of the project in January 2004 to send an SALB expert, Dr Chee Kheng Hoy, to Brazil to work with rubber research organizations and regulatory counterparts to conduct studies on critical areas identified in previous workshops of the project.
The PRA that many of you have put so much effort into is to be the basis of the future standards. As you know, during the third regional workshop convened in Malaysia from 10 to14 April 2006, the PRA on SALB was revised, taking into account the results of the investigative mission in Brazil, with the identification of measures that are technically justified. At the same time it was recommended that the revised PRA should be reviewed by participating countries and discussed at the upcoming APPPC meeting in 2007 before adoption and for the development of regional standards for SALB.
More recently, the PRA has been reviewed from the point of view of its international acceptability. This has been done by having the SALB expert used by the APPPC consult with experts in New Zealand and Australia who have had particular experience in the international use of pest risk analysis documents. The resultant document, I believe, will prove to be a sound basis for the consideration of SALB standards for the region.
I hope that you all have had the opportunity to look over the reviewed PRA and that you also find it to be generally acceptable and that it will provide the necessary basis for the preparation of an overall standard and associated standards for dealing with SALB in Southeast Asia.
Subsequent to this meeting, the PRA will be sent to all APPPC members. This will then be considered, as necessary, at the 25th Session of APPPC. The Commission can then decide to accept the PRA as the basis for APPPC regional standards on SALB.
Following on from the development and adoption of regional standards for SALB, the Commission can then consider if it can adopt Part II of the revised agreement. My colleagues and I feel, and I am sure you do as well, that the full acceptance of the revised agreement will be a firm step forward for the APPPC. The full acceptance of the revision will indicate to members that the Commission then deserves the full support of its members, with funds and expert resources, so it can fulfill the aspirations of member countries.
In conclusion, may I wish you a successful meeting and that you are able to continue the progress of the APPPC in this particular part of its work to move ahead with dealing with SALB and with the completion of the revision process of the Plant Protection Agreement for Asia and the Pacific region.
Finally, I wish you all a pleasant stay in Bangkok.