||Asean Affairs 19 June 2013
ASEAN, China must scrap trade barriers for F&B sector: Group
STRENGTHENED exchanges and cooperation between ASEAN and China's food and beverage industry are needed for both parties to overcome challenges and achieve sustainable growth, the Brunei chairman of the ASEAN Food and Beverage Association (AFBA) said.
In in his speech during the China-ASEAN Food Industry Matchmaking Meeting in Kunming recently, Abd Halim Saim said that there is a need to realise mutual benefit under the framework of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.
The area is the largest free trade area in terms of population and third largest in terms of nominal gross domestic product. Nominal GDP for the area was estimated to hit US$6 trillion in 2008.
"As China and ASEAN are opening their markets to each other, new opportunities and challenges have been brought about for companies in developing economic and trade cooperation," he said.
He also called for more collaboration in removing trade barriers, saying that "further discussions through mechanisms under industrial and trade associations" are required to address the industry obstacles caused by variance in regulatory environment.
"It was addressed that these issues are not only faced by ASEAN industry, but also are problems faced by most Chinese food companies," he said.
He said that the meeting opened up opportunities and suggested practical ways of cooperation among the food industries in ASEAN and China.
He also said that initiatives are being undertaken by the China National Food Industry Association and China-ASEAN Business Council to build the cooperative mechanisms.
The AFBA was launched in Singapore last April with a commitment to facilitate trade by supporting and accelerating regional harmonisation for small, medium and large enterprises.
In previous reports, AFBA said that variance in legislation and lack of harmonisation has slowed the growth of the region's food and beverage sector and affected its ability to compete on the global market.
The association said that some regulations have also discouraged investment due to increased costs which are associated with factors such as multiple authorisations, product reformulation and unnecessary labelling requirements.