The German Development Agency, or GIZ, has unveiled a new mechanism yesterday, entitled Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in Asean (FTAG) in order to provide recommendations for Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asean countries to support the facilitation of agricultural trade in Asean.
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It found hindrances which might slow down the movement of goods across the borders among Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Within Asean, approximately 30 percent of trade takes place between member states. Although in general the level of intra-Asean trade is low, trade in agricultural goods (fruits and vegetables) between Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam is significantly higher, GIZ said.
FTAG was, therefore, initiated to encourage free movement of goods to increase intra-Asean trade, which is one of the Asean goals.
“The FTAG project is being implemented in collaboration with Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam with the ultimate goal to provide recommendations to Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Asean to support facilitation of agricultural goods trade in Asean by emphasising food safety and phytosanitary measures,” it said.
Mr Niponiamsupasit, regional consultant for FTAG, said in the case of phytosanitary and food safety control there was no appropriate risk analysis conducted on imports.
This led to suboptimal testing, which might mean higher levels of testing and sampling than necessary, causing a burden for traders, or higher threats to the health.
The problem includes lack of risk profiling for the risk assessment. There was no systematic keeping of records and collection of information, defining risk criteria, and adequate software, a lack of adequate skills, hardware, and lack of information exchange between agencies.
Appropriate legal provisions might also be lacking, he added.
The FTAG project has also initiated a study on “Assessment of Framework Conditions for Trade in Fresh Fruits in Cambodia” with specific emphasis on trade in mangoes, bananas, longan, lychees, chili, and dragon fruit in trade with Thailand and Vietnam.
The objective is to provide an overview of the situation and identify potential obstacles to trade.
“The Main criteria for prioritisation is a feasibility study, the level of importance and benefits for traders and producers like reducing trade costs and time, contribution to improving efficiency and effectiveness of public administration for food safety, plant health protection and trade facilitation, and possibility of quick wins like short-term benefits versus long-term systematic issues,” Mr Niponiamsupasit said.
To overcome those obstacles, FTAG through GIZ in collaboration with the General Directorate of Agriculture, would organise a “National Workshop on Findings of Assessment Study of Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN: Cambodia”.
This would be a platform for trade-related agencies and private stakeholders to actively exchange views and experiences for facilitating export, import and transit of agricultural goods of Cambodia with Thailand and Vietnam, GIZ said.