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May 12, 2000

Conference on Asian-Pacific Agricultural Issues and Technical Cooperation to be Held in Kona Next Week

Honolulu - More than 60 agricultural leaders from Asia and the Pacific Rim will be arriving next week in Kona to discuss various agriculture-related issues and improve technical cooperation throughout the region. The fourth annual meeting of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Experts Group on Technical Cooperation (ATCEG) will be convening on May 15 through 19 at Kona's Aston Keauhou Beach Resort. The international conference is being co-hosted by the U.S. and Japan, in close cooperation with the County of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. (The agenda for the public portion of the conference is attached.)

APEC was established in 1989 to promote cooperation in trade and other economic issues in the Pacific Rim. The ATCEG serves as a forum to enhance the capacity of agriculture at its related industries to contribute to economic growth and social-well being among Asian and Pacific nations. U.S. agricultural exports to APEC-member countries were worth more than $30 billion in 1999.

At the conference, agricultural experts from 23 key countries in the Asia-Pacific region will address issues such as quarantine treatments and pest management, research, development and the extension of agricultural biotechnology and conservation and utilization of plant and animal genetic resources. Approximately 16 speakers will cover subjects such as; irradiation and other post-harvest treatment of fruits, fruit flies control measures, and the future of exportable commodities for international trade.

"The County of Hawaii is pleased to serve as the venue for this important conference," said Big Island Mayor Stephen K. Yamashiro. "As we try to expand island exports to foreign countries, we hope to share with the conferees the best agricultural products that the Big Island and the state have to offer."

Following the APEC workshop, the International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation (ICGFI) will be sponsoring their own workshop, "Trade Opportunities for Irradiated Food," at the same hotel from May 22 - 23. This workshop will focus on expediting international trade in irradiated food, especially between countries in Asia and the Pacific and those from North America.