Standards in the South-East Asian food trade

Project description

Title: Standards in the South-East Asian food trade
Commissioning Party: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: ASEAN countries; especially Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines
Lead executing agency: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

Organic agriculture training in Bogor, Indonesia. Photo: GIZ


Around the world, demand for high-quality foods, particularly fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, is growing every day. The factors behind this trend include the greater purchasing power of the middle classes in emerging economies and increasing demand from international supermarket chains.

The agriculture and food industry is one of the most important economic sectors in South-East Asia, accounting for up to 48 per cent of the gross domestic product in the individual states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for example in Myanmar. In these countries, foods are only rarely certified in accordance with current standards for good agricultural practice, such as organic and Global GAP standards. On the one hand, this is because authorities, businesses and farmers are ill-informed about the certification process. On the other, business institutions in the ASEAN countries, such as associations or chambers of commerce, are failing to provide adequate support services. This situation is not only limiting options for the export of produce to lucrative markets outside South-East Asia, such as Japan, the European Union and the USA, but is also making it more difficult for the individual ASEAN countries to further integrate themselves into the ASEAN economic community.


International or ASEAN-wide standards relating to good agricultural practice (GAP) and specific quality features for food (e.g. organic farming methods) are verifiably being applied in ASEAN member states, particularly in the production and marketing of fresh and processed fruit and vegetables.

Organically produced vegetables being packed in Davao, Philippines. Photo: GIZ


The project aims to support the ASEAN Expert Working Group on ASEAN GAP and the ASEAN Expert Working Group on Organic Agriculture, as the competent bodies in the sector, in harmonising national standards with the existing regional ASEAN GAP standards and the ASEAN Standard for Organic Agriculture (ASOA). In the long term, quality standards in the ASEAN economic area are to be brought into line with internationally recognised standards such as Global GAP and the EU’s organic certification label. The project activities will primarily be carried out in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines.

The project measures focus on:

  • Creating an enabling environment for the further development of standards in the food sector
  • Training inspectors, auditors and state supervisory bodies
  • Supporting farmers, producer groups and companies

Both private and public actors receive support.

The project helps small and medium-sized enterprises to obtain certification in the context of public-private partnerships. Voluntary food standards such as GAP and organic standards are to be introduced on a pilot basis. The experience gained and recommendations drawn up in this process will be used to further develop regional ASEAN GAP and ASOA standards.

GIZ also supports institutions in the ASEAN countries in improving the efficiency of monitoring systems for food standards. Special emphasis is placed on training private and state supervisory bodies in how to conduct risk-based inspections. These inspections allow the supervisory bodies to detect and evaluate risks in relation to the growing, processing and quality of fruit and vegetables and help to prevent production losses. In order to ensure this knowledge is retained and remains available to certification bodies and authorities in the long term, a learning platform on compliance with food standards is to be established in cooperation with the project partners.

The project also works closely with other regional projects, such as the ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems measure, and is part of the regional programme on establishing an ASEAN common market.

Vegetables from Laos produced according to GAP. Photo: GIZ

Additional information