The 3rd ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SPS Cooperation) was held in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in September 20. This meeting was jointly hosted by AQSIQ, SPS authorities of ASEAN countries and ASEAN Secretariat. Minister Zhi Shuping with AQSIQ and Ty Phommasaack, the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos and Vice Chairman of ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry, were elected the Chairpersons to co-chair the meeting. Zhi Shuping, Ty Phommasaack and Ma Biao delivered opening remarks on behalf of China, ASEAN and the government of Guangxi Autonomous Region respectively.
Vice Minister of AQSIQ Wei Chuanzhong chaired the opening ceremony and introduced major participants of the meeting: Minister Pehin Dato Haji Yaha from Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources of Brunei, Minister Chan Sarun from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery of Cambodia, Vice Minister Ty Phommasaack from Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos, Minister Datuk Seri Noh bin Omar from Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry of Malaysia, Under Secretary Joel S. Rudinas from Department of Agriculture of the Philippines, Minister Theera Wongsamut from Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of the Thailand and Vice Minister Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. Vice Chairman Chen Zhangliang from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region attended the meeting. This meeting is the 3rd ministerial one on China-ASEAN cooperation in the field of animal and plant quarantine and food safety. Over 100 representatives attended the meeting, including about 60 from ASEAN side and 13 of them are ministerial level. Representatives from AQSIQ, CNCA, SAC and heads of local CIQs with close trade relation with ASEAN and Guangxi Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision attended the meeting.
In the opening remarks, Minister Zhi Shuping spoke highly of the importance of China-ASEAN cooperation for its contribution to the economic and social development of this region. Since the completion of the China-ASEAN FTA, China has become ASEAN’s largest trade partner, and ASEAN China’s third largest. Zhi reviewed and fully affirmed the rich achievements made in strengthening the cooperation of food safety and animal and plant quarantine since the establishment of the ministerial meeting mechanism on quality supervision, inspection and quarantine between the Chinese government and ASEAN in 2007. Zhi said that the work in the field of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine played an important role in the development of China-ASEAN economic and trade relation. Based on the working plans of ministerial meetings, both sides have conducted information exchange, mutual visit, training and seminar and joint study. Both sides learned from each, sought common ground while reserving differences and improved together. The cooperation mechanism keeps improving, cooperation content becomes richer and effectiveness turns more prominent. The proposal made by leaders of China and ASEAN are implemented commendably.
Minister Zhi said that the population of China and ASEAN has reached 1.9 billion in 2011 and trade volume totaled over 36 billion US dollars. Currently the global economic situation is undertaking profound changes, and the position and role of Asia are becoming more and more important. China and ASEAN are most active economies and are in the critical stage of development transition, with strong economic complementarities and bright cooperation future. Now the global economic growth rate is descending, international market demand is slack, trade protectionism is rising and trade friction is accelerating, the bilateral cooperation therefore appears more precious. This ministerial meeting on quality supervision, inspection and quarantine (SPS Cooperation), with the theme of “Strengthening Cooperation and Serving China-ASEAN FTA Construction”, presents to the world the confidence and determination of China-ASEAN to strengthen cooperation, face challenges and join hands to get through difficulties. Minister Zhi put forward his proposals by four points: firstly, to strengthen cooperation and communication, and oppose trade protection; secondly, to strengthen high-level dialogue and improve cooperation mechanism; thirdly, to strengthen capacity building and achieve common development; fourthly, to strengthen coordination of measures and serve free trade.
Vice Minister Ty Phommasaack applauded Minister Zhi’s proposal in his speech and said that China has been ASEAN’s cooperation partner for a long time and ASEAN is willing to seek broad cooperation with China in various areas. SPS is of great importance for social and economic development, food security and agriculture development and it is of profound impact on China-ASEAN FTA construction to strengthen SPS cooperation. The China-ASEAN trade statistics show that the future will see further development of bilateral trade, not to mention the past and the present. This meeting is to further maintain this passion, ensure that the imported and exported agricultural products and food between China and ASEAN meet the safety, sanitary and health requirements, protect the life and health of the mankind, animal and plant, protect consumers’interests and promote regional trade development.
Ma Biao warmly congratulated on the meeting on behalf of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and expressed gratitude for the efforts Chinese and ASEAN agencies of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine made in deepening the cooperation, progress and double win between China and ASEAN. Ma said that for a long time, AQSIQ granted Guangxi a series of preferential policies and assisted in Guangxi’s opening-up and leaping development. Based on the situation of Guangxi, the quality supervision, inspection and quarantine agencies in Guangxi abut on ASEAN and work actively. They signed MOUs on strengthening quality and safety supervision and clearance facilitation with different levels of governments and departments, promulgated 10 measures to support further opening-up and balanced development of foreign trade in Guangxi, established and improved working mechanisms to serve China-ASEAN EXPO and China-ASEAN Trade and Investment Summit, actively deplored special models of inspection supervision, promoted construction of quality and safety model area for imported and exported agricultural products and food, and played an important role in pushing the implementation of Guangxi’s strategy of “Vitalizing Guangxi through quality ”. Ma expressed his hope that quality supervision, inspection and quarantine agencies in Guangxi would seriously implement all cooperation projects and requirements agreed upon in the areas of supervision, inspection and quarantine, and actively and persistently push bilateral economic and trade cooperation broader and deeper.
This meeting achieved important outcomes. With the theme of “Strengthening Cooperation and Serving China-ASEAN FTA Construction”, participants conducted discussion on pushing forward continuous, in-depth, all-round and orderly cooperation in the area of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine. The meeting reviewed and approved 2013-2014 Implementation Plan of SPS MOU, aiming at deepening cooperation in five areas, i.e., information exchange, mutual visit, training and seminar, joint study and improving mechanisms. The China-ASEAN cooperation portal website was formally launched（www.chinaaseansps.com）. Both sides reached agreement on the automatic extension of SPS MOU for one year and agreed in principle to sign new SPS MOU in 2013, passed Joint Press Statement and held news conference.
Minister Zhi in his closing speech made a comprehensive recapitulation and spoke highly of the meeting: it features rich content and outcomes, and carries on the past and opens a way for future。He emphasized on the three aspects: firstly, it is of great significance to strengthen China-ASEAN cooperation. China and ASEAN are strongly complementary in economy and trade and have huge cooperation potential. SPS cooperation mechanism is undoubtedly to promote the healthy development of free trade in this region and in-depth merger of regional agricultural economy and food industry. Secondly, it is a heavy responsibility and a long way to go to strengthen China-ASEAN cooperation. SPS issues are technical and specialized, and relevant trade in agricultural products and food are sensitive and special. Authorities of all sides are expected to ensure greater achievements in SPS cooperation by taking good care of each project and implementing each plan practically. Thirdly, persistence is valuable in China-ASEAN cooperation. China-ASEAM cooperation reflected common understanding and will, and is worth of persistence and development. China would join hands with ASEAN to keep close contact, make concerted efforts and turn the cooperation mechanism more smooth, more effective and even longer.
The meeting agreed to hold the next ministerial meeting on quality supervision, inspection and quarantine (SPS cooperation ) in an ASEAN member country in 2014.