As ASEAN member states (AMS) move toward full realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), there is a need to promote intra-regional trade of agri-food products by improving food safety and sector competitiveness. One barrier to achieving this objective is the existence of at least 10 different national standards and conformity assessment systems for agri-food products across the 10 AMS. These quality assurance inconsistencies across borders create a great deal of uncertainty for buyers, effectively limiting their demand for agri-food products from within the region.
To address these differences the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) have endorsed the ASEAN Agricultural Best Practices, including good agricultural practices (GAP) for fruits/vegetables, good aquaculture practices (GAqP) for food fish, and good animal husbandry practices (GAHP) for poultry products including broilers and layers. These ASEAN Standards are designed to serve as a basis for determining equivalence of different existing national standards, or as a blueprint to be adopted for those AMS currently without national standards systems in place.
While the ASEAN Standards have been written and endorsed, there remains a need to practically implement them at the regional and national levels in a way that will increase confidence and demand from buyers, promote uptake at the farm level, and foster appropriate levels of protection between trade partners.
To address this issue, this study recommends the establishment of a Multilateral Arrangement for the Mutual Recognition of Agri-food Standards and Conformity Assessment (MAMRASCA) that covers all three existing ASEAN agri-food standards, with flexibility for adoption of further agri-food standards.