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APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Remarks to the High Level Conference on Key Issues, Beijing, 14 August 2014 Graeme Harrison, KNZM Chair, ANZCO Foods/New Zealand International Business Forum
FOOD STANDARDS AND SAFETY MANAGEMENT
It’s a pleasure to be in Beijing and to participate in this High Level Conference for PPFS.
I congratulate our Chairman, Dr Han, and thank all those involved in making the excellent arrangements for our meeting.
Coming from New Zealand, and representing the meat industry as I do, I know you will expect me to emphasise the importance of trade and open markets for achieving food security.
Well today I won’t disappoint you!
The need to make more rapid and meaningful progress towards achieving food security is at the heart of the PPFS mandate.
The FAO has estimated that global food demand will increase significantly in the next 35 years.
The extent of this growth in demand, and its implications for governments, is such that it is likely to challenge existing policy and regulatory settings.
This also means that taking action to achieve food security is not something that can be put off until 2020 ? this progress needs to start today ? but the 2020 deadline is instructive.
It aligns with the Bogor goals for free and open trade and investment in the region.
The Bogor goals are in turn closely connected with the vision for regional economic integration which has guided APEC’s work since the beginning.
Simply put, we can’t achieve this integration without food security.
In other words if we have persistent food insecurity, if economies then resort to trade protectionism in order to combat its ills and feed their people, then we will not make progress towards the sort of inter-dependent economic future that the founders of APEC have put before us.
Open trade and food security are mutually reinforcing.
My own company, Anzco Foods, is committed to ensuring the orderly supply of safe, nutritious, sustainably produced meat products, particularly beef and lamb, to consumers in Asia Pacific markets.
Working with our farmer suppliers in New Zealand, local and foreign regulatory agencies and our network of business partners in the market, we have built a reputation for quality and safety which provides assurances for importers, distributors and consumers.
We recognise the fundamental importance of ensuring people have confidence in the food they eat and that local agricultural systems are also protected.
Open markets need to be accompanied by strong regulatory oversight of trade.
This balance is reflected in the World Trade Organisation’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, which speaks of the need to facilitate trade while protecting human, plant and animal health.
In New Zealand we recognise that our reputation stands or falls on the integrity of our country’s bio-security and animal production systems.
The responsibility for maintaining this reputation lies with the New Zealand Government in making sure the systems and assurances are robust and with the private sector throughout the supply chain ? right through to the consumer.
We in the private sector work closely with government agencies, especially the Ministry for Primary Industries, and with our local science and research organisations, to develop a world-class safety assurance regime.
These agencies in turn work closely with their counterparts in the market to build confidence in our systems and to be able to address very quickly any problems which arise.
Unfortunately there is a tendency for some economies to take a stricter approach to imports than to domestic production.
There is also a tendency to regard the commercial interests of exporting economies as somehow different to the importing economies’ food security needs.
In fact, once again, both are inextricably linked.
Exporters cannot sell products to consumers who have no confidence in what they buy.
Exporters can also be easily deterred if the cost of trading with another economy becomes too high.
This can create food shortages and increase costs.
It can reduce manufacturing capacity in importing economies and increase unemployment.
While policies and processes aimed at limiting imports are often intended to promote domestic production to enhance food security, they invariably have the reverse effect.
The better approach is to approve the exporting economy’s own compliance systems, and audit the overarching regulatory system.
If you can trust an economy’s systems you do not need to check every last container.
Compliance efforts can focus on those economies whose systems need to be further developed.
This allows smoother, safer trade across the region and hence improves food security and food safety.
We recognise that building trust requires sustained and collaborative effort.
There is a role for PPFS to contribute to building trust through exchanging information, and providing capacity building to develop robust production and trade systems.
New Zealand’s own experience of developing a world-class food safety assurance regime is one that is very relevant for a number of economies represented here today.
Over time we have moved comprehensively to adopt an innovative, science based approach to food safety, one based on outcomes, rather than prescription, one that reflects international standard-making through Codex and one that relies on developing a partnership approach with regulatory agencies.
New Zealand’s food safety system is based on a very simple premise: the Government sets the standards it expects food companies to meet; and, within reason, each company is allowed to develop its own processes to meet those standards.
Penalties for failure to meet those prescribed standards are heavy ? in both a regulatory and commercial sense.
Companies are continually audited by independent verification agencies to ensure that they are reaching the targets prescribed in law.
Developing strong systems and ensuring that these systems are tested rigorously, independently and efficiently ? we believe this is the best way to meet the closely inter-related goals of open trade, food security and food safety.
As I said at the outset, we are meeting here in Beijing at a time when the global demand for food is continuing to increase steadily.
The FAO and World Bank both estimate that only 10 percent of this new demand can be met by new cropland.
Only 20 percent of demand can be met from better use of existing cropland using existing technology.
It follows that 70 percent must come from new technology and from policy innovation.
The task before us in PPFS is to find the answers both in terms of technology and policy.
Doing what we have always done is not going to meet the ambitious aims of the PPFS Roadmap towards Food Security by 2020.
We need more innovation in our policy responses.
Our approach to food safety must continue to evolve.
The future of our entire region depends on it.
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