On 21 and 22 February 2023, CSAM organized a High-Level Policy Dialogue alongside the first session of the ESCAP Committee on Trade, Investment, Enterprise and Business Innovation (CTIEBI) in Bangkok.
The event engaged policymakers from Ministries and institutions in charge of trade, standards, conformity and accreditation, to discuss national standards development and accreditation processes, as well as options and practices for the recognition of international standards and certification schemes.
At the outset, H.E. Mr Luo Wen, Minister of the State Administration for Market Regulation of the People’s Republic of China, and Mr Anton Shalaev, Head of the Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology of the Russian Federation (Rosstandart), shared their views on trade facilitation through international standards and mutual recognition.
The event was opened by remarks from Dr Rupa Chanda, Director of the ESCAP Trade and Investment Division, who highlighted the links between non-tariff measures and standards and their importance in lowering trade costs for food security, and Dr Yutong Li, Head of CSAM, who illustrated the potential of the harmonized standards developed through the Asian and Pacific Network for Testing of Agricultural Machinery (ANTAM), in response to the call of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to all stakeholders to “urgently unlock all possible resources […] to support smallholder and family farmers to increase productivity and self-reliance” in order to face global food security challenges.
ANTAM is an initiative led by CSAM that aims to harmonize testing standards for agricultural machinery in the region, with the goal of facilitating trade of quality, safe, efficient and environmentally sound agricultural machinery in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. ANTAM was recognized as a good practice in South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation. In the past years, ANTAM has developed several harmonized codes for the testing of small-sized agricultural machinery through an inclusive process involving all its 19 participating countries and in response to the needs of smallholders in the region. However, there is a need to explore options for the establishment of a regional mutual recognition system at the policy level, to bring the initiative into full function and enhance trade of safe and efficient agricultural machinery. For this purpose, officials from standards and trade authorities of Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, and Viet Nam shared their national process for development of standards and participation in related international frameworks, as well as their recommendations for the establishment of a mutual recognition system for ANTAM.
International organizations including ASEAN, OECD, UNECE, and the European Network for Testing of Agricultural Machinery (ENTAM) also presented their programmes related to international standards and mutual recognition systems. H.E. Mr Artak Kamalyan, Member of the Board and Minister in charge of Industry and Agroindustrial Complex of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), visited the ANTAM booth set alongside the event showcasing some of the machinery targeted by ANTAM Codes and discussed, among other issues, the EEC Technical Regulations for agricultural machinery in relation to potential cooperation with ANTAM during a bilateral meeting with the ESCAP Executive Secretary.
The Policy Dialogue was an opportunity to present ANTAM to the authorities in charge of standards and trade. The recommendations stemming from the event, which include the creation of an Expert Group on the establishment of a mutual recognition system for the initiative, will be presented to the ANTAM 9th Annual Meeting, and will be reflected in a study on the “feasibility of establishing a regional system for the mutual recognition of agricultural machinery testing to enhance trade of safe and efficient machinery”, currently under development, to guide the future direction of ANTAM.