Agriculture is still a core sector in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on which 40% of the working population of the ASEAN Member States base their livelihood and income. Nevertheless, only about 30% of trade of ASEAN Member States is within ASEAN. Gaps in regulation on food safety and measures regarding plant sanitation and health (phytosanitary measures) frequently hinder and slow down the movement of goods across the borders of ASEAN countries and the trade with markets such as China or the EU.

To overcome these challenges the Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG) project was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and was implemented by GIZ in collaboration with the ASEAN Member States Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam.

For the last two years the project worked with the three countries to align the regulatory framework concerning food safety and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and procedures for selected agricultural goods i.e. mango, longan, lychee, dragon fruit, banana, and chili. Through the practical work and exchange on Standard Operating Procedures for export inspections, pest lists etc., recommendations for ASEAN were generated to improve trade facilitation between its members.

The project was brought to a successful end with a closing workshop on November 26, 2019 and the 5th Steering Committee meeting on November 27, 2019 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, co-organised by the Support of Regional Economic Cooperation in Asia (SRECA) project.

Building on the established network of public officials working on food safety and phytosanitary measures, SRECA will continue to support the work on this vital aspect of agricultural trade for regional exchanges on SPS between Cambodia, Viet Nam and additionally Lao PDR. Thailand and China joining the discussion as development partners from the region’s most important markets. SRECA, together with its partners on site aims to broaden the dialogue structure to include private sector representatives to work together with officials to improve trade in agricultural products in the region.