Pacific Rim economies agreed on the need to boost agriculture production and facilitate farm trade and investment at the first ministerial meeting on food security held in Japan last week.
The 21 member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum adopted the Niigata Declaration on APEC Food security and an action plan aimed at rising world population and the threat of climate change.
“ Increasing the availability of sufficient, safe and nutritious food in the APEC region through expanded supply capacity, underpinned by variable rural communities, will be necessary to address a possible supply-demand imbalance for food that may result from future population and income growth,’ the declaration said
Papua New Guinea, a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations was represented by the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, John Hickey, who was accompanied to Niigata prefecture by his departmental head, Anton Benjamin..
The gist of the Niigata Declaration on APEC Food security adopted by the 21 member economies are:
· Recognise the need to expand food supply capacity;
· Agree to cooperate to help mitigate climate change and enhance disaster preparedness in the agriculture sector;
· Agree to promote responsible agricultural investment;
· Agree to cooperate to facilitate improved agricultural trade; and
· Renew commitment to a prompt conclusion of the Doha round of trade liberalisation talks.
The APEC forum first ministerial meeting on food security came as a need arose to focus on how to feed the increasing world population and ensure stability in food prices following price spikes between 2007 and 2008.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations says to accommodate an estimated world population of over 9 billion by 2050, food production must increase by 70%.
The APEC forum also renewed its commitment to an early conclusion of the Doha Round of trade liberalisation talks and confirmed the extension of the 2008 APEC summit meeting agreement to refrain from introducing new barriers on investment and trade and export restrictions until 2011.
Under the action plan, member economies were assigned various tasks for ensuring food security and the forum agreed to report progress on the implementation of these tasks to the APEC ministers annually.
Japan assumed the rotating chair of the forum for the first time since 1995 and has been hosting a series of meetings throughout Japan.
APEC, which accounts for about half of the world’s economic output, includes Japan, Australia, China, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the United States of America and seven members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations of which PNG is a member.
The outcome of the meeting will be forwarded to the incoming annual APEC leader’s summit conference to be held in November in Yokohama, Japan.