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As globalization progresses and the economic inter-dependence of countries expands, the demand for reliable and timely information in every sphere of economic activity will increase. Forestry is no exception to this trend. The forestry sector in Asia and the Pacific is undergoing significant adjustments in response to the overall changes in the economic, political and institutional environment. Many countries that were previously exporters of forest products have become significant importers to meet growing domestic demand. At the same time, several countries have advanced rapidly to take advantage of the emerging opportunities for trade in processed wood products, including furniture and other secondary products.

Understanding the nature of changes and identifying opportunities require strengthening the information base and enabling wider access to information by all forestry stakeholders. It is in this context that FAO joined forces with the International Tropical Timber Organization and the Australian National University to organize a workshop on forest products statistics, specifically to enhance the capacity of countries in collecting, compiling, analysing and reporting forest products statistics. A similar workshop was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in early 2002 for statistical correspondents from South and Southeast Asian countries. The workshop brought together participants, primarily from countries with limited human resources capacity and other resources, especially from the small island countries in the Pacific. In addition to providing the participants with an opportunity to learn about new tools and techniques, the workshop demonstrated the more advanced systems of data collection and analysis established in Australia and New Zealand.

Besides helping to improve the knowledge on the state of forest products statistics and innovative approaches to improve data quality, the workshop also concentrated on strengthening the recently established network of statistical correspondents. As interaction improves among the national correspondents, it is hoped that direct contacts will increase, enabling the sharing of information and experiences related to effective data collection and information dissemination. FAO and its partners sincerely hope that the workshop has been another milestone in fostering regional collaboration. I would like to take this opportunity to particularly thank Mr. Steve Johnson, Prof. Peter Kanowski and Dr. Chris Perley for facilitating the workshop.

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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