The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Committee on Trade and Investment started gathering in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday, seeking measures to ease bottlenecks to safe and efficient food trade between APEC member economies.
Policymakers must ensure that foreign products does not harm local consumers, crops or livestock, but too many regulatory requirements limit regulators' ability to guarantee the safety of food imports and bury food exporters in administrative red tape, according to an APEC study of non-tariff barriers in agriculture and food trade.
According to Marie Sherlyn Aquia, chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, there are over 80 different official certificates in the APEC region; certificate requirements for food exports must be focused, streamlined, science-based and compliant with the World Trade Organization Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
To this end, technical terms in the paperwork, for example, are to be aligned across APEC economies to minimize confusion and facilitate communication across food businesses and regulators. This also means scaling back requirements that exceed baseline needs.
The initiative to streamline food export regulations follows a call by the leaders of APEC's member economies for the reduction of unnecessary requirements in official certificates for agricultural products.
Agriculture and regulatory officials from APEC economies are concurrently meeting in southern Can Tho city to take next policy steps towards safer and more robust food trade in the region.
They are attending a high-level policy dialogue on food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change, introducing new initiatives for mitigating the effects of climate change on the region's agriculture trade and food security.
The third APEC Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM 3) and related meetings are taking place in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City from Aug. 18 to Aug. 30.
A total of 75 meetings of four committees and 26 working and sub-working groups in various fields, including trade and investment, business facilitation, science, technology and innovation and anti-corruption, are being held.
The meetings, especially SOM 3 slated for Aug. 29 and 30 in Ho Chi Minh City, are aimed at bridging structural and resource gaps for realizing more free and equitable trade and growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Officials are focused on boosting transparency and participation in trade agreement negotiations while easing trade barriers faced by businesses at and behind borders.
Promoting innovation and trade in the auto, health and information and communications technology sectors are parallel priorities.