Compliance with food safety issues are becoming an increasingly important determinant in market access. The fall-out from health scares related to food can have global and long-lasting negative consequences. It is therefore important to enhance cooperation in food safety and create the confidence for increased trade.
Hence, in 1998 the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) called for APEC Leaders to commit to building an APEC Food System as a comprehensive approach to action in the food sector.
In 1999 in Auckland, New Zealand, APEC Ministers agreed that the overriding objective in building the AFS would be "to efficiently link together food production, food processing and consumption to meet the food needs of our people as an essential part of achieving sustainable growth, equitable development and stability in the APEC region." That same year, Leaders adopted the ABAC report on the APEC Food System proposed by ABAC and endorsed its key recommendations to:
- Address rural infrastructure development;
- Disseminate technological advances in food production and processing, and
- Promote trade in food products.
Since then, APEC has recognized that the underlying objective of ABAC's original proposal for AFS is the widening of markets into a single regional market. The desired result is to improve the efficiency of food production and trade for the benefit of APEC Member Economies. Progress on these goals is reported annually through the AFS chapter on the Individual Action Plan (IAP). In addition, all Working Groups and sub-fora include activities relevant to the APEC Food System in their SCE reports.
Last page update: May 2016
In May 2011, APEC held the third Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) in Big Sky, Montana. This forum included delegates from 18 member economies. During the meeting, members reinstated their commitment to work together to strengthen food safety systems and progress towards a safe food supply and harmonization of food standards with international standards, as recommended in the World Trade Organization’s SPS/TBT agreements. This commitment is made with a view to improve public health and to facilitate trade in the APEC region.
The APEC Food Safety Incident Management Workshop was also held in May 2011 in Big Sky. Around 100 delegates from a range of government, industry, academic and other organizations from 18 APEC economies attended the workshop. The key recommendation was the establishment of an APEC FSCF Food Safety Incident Network that would have as its primary objectives;
- Improved information-sharing and communication, including on risk assessment, risk management and risk communication, among member economies to provide accurate and timely information on emerging food safety issues or in the event of a food safety incident;
- Development and implementation of FSCF-agreed approaches to improved food safety incident preparedness, response and recovery mechanisms within APEC; and
- Strengthened participation of member economies in the World Health Organization’s International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) and other international networks to increase the ability to respond to food safety emergencies of global significance.
The overall conclusion from the workshop was that there is significant preparedness and goodwill from government and industry to work together in a true partnership approach to improve the APEC region’s capacity to deal with emerging food safety issues and resultant food safety incidents.
The APEC FSCF and the World Bank signed an MOU to explore opportunities for deepening the working relationship with the World Bank on carrying out capacity building activities to promote and support food safety.