January 27, 2021. The Philippine Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (DA-BAFS), chaired the 3rd Workshop on the Development of the ASEAN MRA on Organic Agricultural Products which was conducted through online video conference on January 26-27, 2021. The two-day workshop was attended by delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Philippine delegation is represented by DA-BAFS (Mr. Mark Matubang, Ms. Vera Ysabel de la Cruz, and Mr. Vicente Limsan, Jr). The ASEAN Secretariat and EU-ARISE Plus Project consultants (workshop facilitator) were also present during the online workshop.
Dr. Myer G. Mula, as the Chair, delivered the opening remarks to formally open the workshop. Dr. Mula wishes the workshop to achieve its targets despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and pursue the goal of enhancing and facilitating trade of organic products with the ASEAN Region towards economic integration.
Figure 1. Dr. Myer G. Mula, BAFS Director (top-most photo) delivers an opening remarks to formally open the workshop
The MRA is an on-going priority action of the ASEAN Experts Working Group on Organic Agriculture (EWG-OA) with technical support from the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the European Union (EU-ARISE) Plus Project. The EU-ARISE Plus (2017 to 2022) has been designed to further extend the European Union’s commitment in supporting the ASEAN region in trade facilitation.
The MRA is an important means of eliminating technical barriers to trade which may, directly or indirectly, affect trade and enhance market access, and that such mutual recognition could be of particular interest to small and medium-sized businesses in ASEAN. The MRA document under discussion of the EWG-OA is applicable to all organic produce and processed agricultural products produced in ASEAN within the scope of the ASEAN Standard for Organic Agriculture.
Following the Plan of Action of the ASEAN Cooperation for Organic Agriculture (2021-2025), the EWG-OA is on its right track in achieving one of its Strategic Thrusts: Enhance Trade Facilitation, Economic Integration and Market Access. The first two workshops were conducted last September 2019 and September 2020. The draft MRA document, and its related documents has been circulated among the EWG-OA members from the ten ASEAN Member States for inputs and comments.
Figure 2. Virtual group photo of the delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR,
Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, consultants of the EU-ARISE+ Project, and the
ASEAN Secretariat representatives
In line with the issues raised and agreements from the two-day workshop, the EU-ARISE+ consultants will be circulating a revised draft MRA document and its relevant documents in the next 2-3 weeks subject for another round of review by the members of the ASEAN EWG-OA as the next step. ###