A Practical manual for Producers and Exporters from Asia








This manual has been jointly produced by the Trade and Markets Division (EST) and the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Editor and author:
Pascal Liu, Trade and Markets Division, FAO

Associate authors:
Siobhán Casey, Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division, FAO
Jean-Joseph Cadilhon, RAP, FAO
Peter Sousa Hoejskov, RAP, FAO
Nancy Morgan, RAP, FAO

With the collaboration of:
The Economic and Commercial Counsellors, French Embassies in Asia

Text formatting: Daniela Piergentili, Trade and Markets Division, FAO

Layout: Earth Net Foundation/Green Net, Thailand

Illustrations: Earth Net Foundation/Green Net, Thailand

Other acknowledgements: The French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries contributed in funding the editing, printing and distribution of this publication through FAO project MTF/RAS/212/FRA

The mention or omission of specific companies, their products or brand names does not imply any endorsement or judgment by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The desinations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundries. All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other noncommercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holdes. Applications for such permissions should be addressed to the Chief, Publishing Policy and Support Service, Information Technology Division (KCT), FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy or by e-mail to [email protected]

© FAO 2007

Why this manual?


Provide producers and exporters with information on:

  • the regulations of main import countries
  • major voluntary certification programmes
  • contacts where more information on import regulations and
    certification programmes
    can be found

Many producers and exporters feel that the market for certified agricultural products is very complex and that the opportunities and requirements associated with the certification programmes are not always clear. In addition, producers do not always know if the requirements are compulsory (created as an official law or regulation in the importing country) or voluntary. After having read this manual, the reader should be able to understand the main voluntary certification programmes, their importance, the differences between them as well as their advantages and limitations. In order to be able to export his or her products any producer or exporter must also conform with the regulations of importing countries. Therefore, the reader will be able to find in this manual information concerning the main import regulations in the United States of America, the European Union, Japan and other selected countries in the Asia-Pacific region. However, topics such as farming practices and post-harvest activities are beyond the scope of this manual.

This manual comprises two parts:

It is difficult to provide comprehensive information on import regulations and certification programmes for many reasons such as the changing nature of regulations in importing countries and the diversity of products and their characteristics. Therefore, numerous Internet addresses have been provided where additional information can be obtained when necessary. You will find at the end of the manual a blank page that will enable you to update or add the Internet links gathered during your search.

We hope this manual responds to your needs.


The 28th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific held in Jakarta in May 2006 urged member countries and FAO to assist small producers by providing support in enterprise development and marketing. The Conference also requested FAO to continue assisting countries in enhancing capacity to meet international food quality and sanitary and phytosanitary standards - thus facilitating trade and safeguarding plant, animal and human health -and assist in establishing and maintaining appropriate regulations, monitoring and surveillance to ensure food quality and safety.

FAO is promoting practices leading to favourable enabling business environments in Asia. Improving the business capabilities of agro-enterprises is a regular component of FAO's technical assistance on rural livelihoods development to member countries. The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is also involved in improving food quality and safety in Asian countries through a wide range of interventions.

This practical manual on standards, certification and regulations for agricultural exports is the fruit of a multidisciplinary team effort. It was officially launched at the Regional technical consultation on independent certification that FAO organized in October 2007 in Nakhonpathom, Thailand, to raise the awareness of regional agrifood stakeholders on marketing tools available to them to improve their competitiveness and the quality and safety of their products.

The ongoing process of accumulating technical experience and knowledge on developing agro-enterprises and food quality and safety will be synthesized and major policy issues will be presented to the Ministers of Agriculture of the region's member countries at the 29th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, to be held in Pakistan in 2008, through an issue paper on Agribusiness and competitive agro-industries in the context of globalization and free trade and an information paper on Food safety and trade in Asia-Pacific. I hope this process will lead to high-level policy recommendations and decisions on actions to foster more competitive agro-enterprises and production of high-quality and safe agrifood products in the region.

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific


An important part of the mandate of the Trade and Markets Division (EST) of FAO is to identify the problems affecting commodity trade and propose solutions to address them, through both international and national action. EST provides technical assistance to developing countries to help them understand and overcome the various constraints to trade. EST became involved in issues regarding private standards and certification as these continued to arise in the analytical work on trade and economic problems related to the agricultural commodity markets which it analyses.

EST has produced several technical studies and information publications on standards and certification to assist decision makers in the public and private sectors. In April 2004 it organized a Conference on Voluntary Standards and Certification that gathered over 120 stakeholders from the private and public sectors to discuss opportunities and constraints associated with private standards and seek solutions. Since then, it has published a series of regional extension manuals aimed at producer organizations, trainers, extension agents and exporters describing the import regulations of the main export markets and major private standards and voluntary certification programmes. There is a manual for each of the following regions: Central America, South America, West Africa and East Africa. With the present manual, EST is extending the coverage of the series to the Asian region.

All these manuals as well as the other reports and studies published by EST on private standards and certification can be downloaded from its Internet portal on responsible agricultural production and trade:


Alexander Sarris
Trade and Markets Division (EST)




Commercial quality and labelling regulations


Food safety regulations


Phytosanitary regulations


Customs clearance


Import regulations in selected Asia-Pacific countries


Organizations supporting export and quality in Asia



Questions about certification


Environmental certification


Organic agriculture


ISO 14001 certification


Social certification






Food safety and good practice certification


Good agricultural practices (GAP)


Good manufacturing practice certification


Certification for intrinsic food quality


Geographical indications (GI)


Halal certification


Certification of aquaculture products in Asia