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1. The Expert Consultation on Developing an Action Programme towards Improved Bamboo and Rattan Trade Statistics was organized by the FAO Forestry Department in collaboration with, and with financial support from, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). The meeting was held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 5 to 6 December 2002. The agenda of the meeting is given in Annex 1.

2. The meeting was attended by representatives (in their personal capacity) from key agencies such as the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), New York; the World Customs Organization (WCO), Brussels; the European Commission - Taxation and Customs Union Directorate-General, Brussels; the Customs General Administration of China (Beijing); and TRAFFIC - Asia (World Wide Fund for Nature [WWF], Kuala Lumpur); the Programme Manager of INBAR, and by staff from the FAO Forestry and Economic and Social Departments. The list of participants is presented in Annex 2. In addition, a number of background papers were received from the Bureau of Customs - Department of Finance, the Philippines, and from the private sector (Mehitabel Furniture Co., Cebu, the Philippines). Invitations had also been sent to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and to custom agencies from other key bamboo and rattan producing and importing countries such as Indonesia, Viet Nam and the United States of America. Although no representatives of these agencies were able attend the meeting, they expressed their interest in being closely informed on the outcome.

3. The focus of the meeting was on improving product classifications for bamboo and rattan uses in general, but with particular emphasis on those classification systems used by international trade. Therefore, most attention was directed towards the product classification nomenclature and coding as used by the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) of WCO.

4. The objectives of the expert consultation were to: (i) elaborate and agree on a proposed set of new HS trade codes for bamboo and rattan products; and (ii) elaborate a plan of action for improving bamboo and rattan statistics at national and global levels, with a programme of work and the roles of the different agencies discussed and agreed upon during the meeting.

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