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24. The Expert Consultation emphasized that several hundreds of millions of people worldwide depend on bamboo and rattan for their livelihoods, but noted that resources, production and particularly trade statistics on bamboo and rattan at national and international levels are still incomplete. Despite their immense economic and social importance, trade statistics on bamboo and rattan products are based on estimations and compilations of scattered, often unreliable, data or on data that are not comparable among countries. For the vast majority of bamboo and rattan uses, no adequate product classification and/or trade codes exist. Even when data on production and trade are recorded in national accounting systems and/or in international trade statistics, the majority of bamboo and rattan uses are in most cases grouped together with other products or included in the category “any others”.

25. The meeting acknowledged the mandate of FAO to compile statistics on resources, production and trade in agricultural and forestry products, which covers bamboo and rattan. It recognized the INBAR Council decision 1(III) of 10 October 2002 urging 27 INBAR member countries to improve bamboo and rattan statistics and to approach the WCO to introduce more codes for bamboo and rattan products into the HS.

26. The meeting recommended a long-term approach for the identification of new HS codes for given products considering their trade volumes and trends. A set of HS codes covering 17 different bamboo and rattan products was identified, reviewed and endorsed at the meeting (see summary table in Annex 5), with the respective actions required and timetables suggested for submission to the WCO.

27. The meeting recommended that INBAR, in close collaboration with FAO and national custom agencies, should prepare a proposal for submission to the WCO Review Subcommittee Meeting of September 2003, with the new HS codes for bamboo and rattan products as endorsed by the expert meeting.

28. The meeting requested INBAR to work with its member states, in conjunction with FAO and other appropriate international organizations, to identify and further develop national statistical systems for rattan and bamboo resources, production and trade information, including the separate identification of bamboo and rattan products into their existing product classifications, with the aim of including them in international statistical classifications in the future.

29. The meeting called on INBAR and FAO to join forces and take up a leading role among relevant international agencies to elaborate a global plan of action to guide and assist bamboo and rattan trading countries towards improving the visibility of bamboo and rattan products in their trade statistics. The meeting urged FAO and INBAR members to provide accurate statistics on the resources, production and trade of bamboo and rattan in their countries, and encouraged partners (FAO, ITTO, Eurostat, UN Economic Commission for Europe) of the Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire to review opportunities to introduce bamboo and rattan data into the Joint Questionnaire.

30. In addition, the Expert Consultation requested FAO to continue, and further strengthen, its activities in support of international action towards improved statistics on forestry at the national and global levels, and particularly those on bamboo and rattan. This is in line with the Strategies Framework of FAO and the Strategic Plan for Forestry regarding the priorities given to the compilation of reliable statistics on the forestry sector and to the sustainable development of NWFP.

31. The Expert Consultation emphasized the potential of enhancing regional cooperation through information exchange, collaborative research and development, training and material exchange to promote bamboo and rattan as vehicles for achieving social, economic and environmental sustainability in FAO member countries. To this end, the Expert Consultation called for a concerted effort of governments, the private sector, NGOs and relevant international agencies. In addition, the meeting recognized and welcomed an increasing intradepartmental collaboration between the Economic and Social and Forestry Departments regarding the development of statistics on important forest-gathered foods, such as bamboo shoots.

32. The participants agreed that this meeting was the first step in the process of formulation and application of global concerted collaboration among key stakeholders in the development of better forest product trade statistics. In addition, it was underlined by the participants that bamboo and rattan are the flagship of NWFP, and that the lessons learned for improving trade codes on bamboo and rattan could be expanded to cover the development of appropriate trade codes for other NWFP that are important for trade and for which as yet there are no HS codes.

33. The meeting concluded by underlining the need to facilitate exchange of information and expertise among countries and agencies on appropriate product classifications for bamboo and rattan uses and to promote coordination and synergies at the international level. The Expert Consultation recognized FAO's leadership role in compiling global statistics on resource, production and trade in the agriculture sector and requested continuing and strengthened support for the compilation of more accurate statistics on bamboo and rattan by its member countries. The meeting underlined and further welcomed increasing cooperation among FAO, ITTO and INBAR on forest statistics in general and on bamboo and rattan products in particular.

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