This year’s ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Brunei Darussalam will highlight the importance of public-private partnerships in establishing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. Ahead of this event, the FIA Secretariat had the opportunity to speak to FIA’s Chief Scientific Officer, Kim Leighton, and Ms Xinsia Zhang, Director of Scientific Affairs, Regulatory Affairs & Nutrition, Asia Pacific at Mondelēz International, on the importance of good regulatory practice.

During the conversation, both shared their views on ASEAN’s role in championing the Five Principles of good regulatory practice and how the food industry can provide support to these commitments.

FIA: Why is good regulatory practice important in ASEAN?
Regulatory frameworks have a big impact on a region’s trade and investment. As ASEAN moves towards its goal for economic integration and establishing the AEC by 2015, it becomes even more important that individual member states commit to developing science based and consistent regulatory systems that can facilitate free trade and investment in the region.

To do so, it is essential that ASEAN member states continue to promote the consistent use of good regulatory practices. These practices have been globally referenced to ensure the fairness and transparency of the regulatory process and to encourage multi-stakeholder engagement. They are designed to reduce the unnecessary regulatory burden on trade and investment.

The promotion of good regulatory practices also improves the consistency of technical regulations in the region and facilitates the harmonisation of standards based on internationally recognised rules and regulations.

The application of the Five Principles of Good Regulatory Practice – good governance; rigorous impact assessment; scientific basis and proportionality; open consultation; and minimal restrictiveness – helps ensure that standards and regulations are well-designed to achieve their intended objectives. It also means they can be effectively enforced. Regulations that are poorly designed and implemented can create unnecessary technical barriers to trade, which may impede the process towards achieving a single ASEAN market economy.

FIA: How has ASEAN committed to the principles of good regulatory practice?
All ten ASEAN Member States are represented on the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality (ACCSQ). This important committee has recognised the significance of good regulatory practice and seeks to promote the delivery of these standards and the transparency of technical regulations by working with ASEAN regulators through the Working Group on Standards and Mutual Recognition Arrangements .

The significance of good regulatory practice at the policy level is also recognised in the ASEAN Policy Guideline on Standards and Conformance, which was endorsed by the region’s economic ministers in 2005. In the document, the various ASEAN bodies are provided guidance to fast track the integration of priority sectors while incorporating the principles of good regulatory practice.

ASEAN has also developed the ASEAN Good Regulatory Practice Guide which seeks to assist regulators in the individual member states in meeting international obligations under the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and their commitment under the ASEAN Framework Agreement for the Integration of Priority Sectors.

The Guide also provides details around the principles of good regulatory practice and identifies what good regulations entail.

FIA: How can the food industry support the commitment to good regulatory practice?
The ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA) is focused on creating effective and meaningful engagement with relevant public and private sector stakeholders including SMEs across a range of areas. In promoting good regulatory practice, AFBA will engage proactively with the ASEAN Secretary General and the ASEAN Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group (PFPWG) to explore potential areas of collaboration and providing them with necessary technical support and expertise.

Mondelēz International is pleased to support the work of AFBA through our business units in the ASEAN Member States and we believe this is a valuable platform for food manufactories engage in effective dialogue with the ASEAN bodies across the broadest range of stakeholders.

FIA issues a fortnightly e-bulletin with analysis on relevant food and beverage industry issues across the region. To subscribe to this service, please click here.