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Food Industry Asia Teams up for Greater Mekong Sub region Food Safety Agenda

From September 6 to 8 2017, “GMS: Towards Inclusive, Safe, and Sustainable Agriculture Value Chains” conference was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which culminated with The Second GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (GMS AMM-2). The AMM-2 brought together the agriculture ministers from these countries, who each endorsed the GMS Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan for Promoting Safe and EnvironmentFriendly Agro-Based Value Chains in the GMS for 2018-2022.

Food Industry Asia (FIA) has pledged to support the six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) in building capacity and strengthening food safety systems across the region. Representing the private sector, FIA will bring together governments, policymakers and industry leaders through high-level dialogue to drive the food safety agenda. The GMS comprises the Kingdom of Cambodia; People’s Republic of China, specifically Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Republic of the Union of Myanmar; Kingdom of Thailand; and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Group on Agriculture (GMS WGA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), FIA engaged in a series of discussions with senior officials of the GMS ministries of agriculture, including a formal public-private dialogue and roundtable. The food industry body also facilitated a policy forum on food safety and sustainable management of land and water for the production of a reliable supply of safe and quality agri-food products, which highlighted the role of agri-food value chains in the development of the sub region, particularly its potential for agritourism. Matt Kovac, FIA’s Executive Director, said, “Our ambition is to have strong collaboration between the private and public sectors in the GMS through s u s t a i n a b l e m u l t i – s t a k e h o l d e r partnerships designed to improve food safety standards through a range of capacity-building efforts.”

I n s u p p o r t o f t h e s e e f f o r t s , representatives from FIA member companies Cargill, Nestlé, GS1 and Waters Corporation participated in the AMM-2 and related discussions.

Kim Keat Ng, Chairman of Food Industry Asia’s Science and Technical Committee, delivers a statement on FIA’s commitment to partnering with the Greater Mekong Sub region Working Group on Agriculture (GMS WGA) to strengthen food safety systems in the region. The statement was presented during The Second GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (GMS AMM-2) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 8 September 2017.

Kim Keat Ng, Chairman of FIA’s Science and Technical Committee, delivered a statement at the AMM-2, detailing the commitment made by FIA. He highlighted a number of areas for collaboration that are expected to immediately yield positive results, including: 1. Traceability through the piloting of GS1 barcode-based systems for facilitation and monitoring of cross-border trade, as well as the establishment of Government-to-Government, Businessto-Government, and Government-toBusiness data-sharing; 2. Establishment of mechanisms for laboratory capacity-building across leadership, management and technical levels; 3. Food safety risk communication through the collaborative development of the ICT platforms such as AINS 2.0 as a GMS food safety communication tool and knowledge repository unit; 4. Promotion of the harmonization of food safety standards that will enhance trade through the facilitation of publicprivate dialogues; and 5. Enhancing national legislation and regulations on food safety through public-private forums. FIA, according to the statement delivered by Ng, “recognizes that a regional approach to food policy, driven by private and public interests, will enhance protection of consumers and suppliers in the GMS, support scaling up of productivity and quality of products, and thus facilitate product marketing.” “Using the power of partnership, FIA and the GMS WGA have the opportunity to improve food safety in the region through multi-stakeholder efforts, with the adoption of a risk-based approach built on successful models that address the whole supply chain, while simultaneously promoting a climate for sustainable growth,” the statement added.

Founded in 2010, Food Industry Asia (FIA) is a non-profit organisation to enable major food manufacturers to speak with one voice on complex food industry issues in the areas of health and nutrition, harmonisation of standards, and food safety. The organisation acts as a policy and regulatory centre for national industry associations and affiliated groups to engage with public bodies and other stakeholders across the Asia region.