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Policies And Strategies For Intra - Regional Production And Trade Of Coconut Products In The Asia -Pacific In A Changing Global Scenario And A Regime Of Trade Liberalization

The coconut remains a vital component in the economies of the Asia-Pacific region, not only as indigenous resource for products for domestic consumption but also as strategic commodity for export market. But despite its magnitude in the regional economies and global markets, coconut suffers the predicament of deteriorating performance and eroding competitiveness, in both production and trade.

In order to arrest the deteriorating comparative advantage and to turn around the declining competitive edge of coconut in the national and global markets, the coconut industry community, both at the national and regional levels, must pursue no less than a quantum leap catch-up strategy. But to undertake this imperative, the industry must recognize significant trends in a changing global scenario, such as increasing global population and demand, changing consumer preferences, broadening environment advocacies, intensifying safety and security concerns, and shifting marketing networks that are impacting on the character and redefining the shape of the global market. It must as well as take cognizance of critical developments, like emerging lauric substitutes and increasing volatility of prices that are enhancing threats to the future of the industry.

At the same time, coconut must reckon with the impact of trade liberalization in agriculture. Liberalization of trade in agriculture, particularly the formation of regional free trade areas, presents prospects for growth in production and trade in coconut products, especially in intra-regional markets of the Asia-Pacific. Moreover, under obtaining conditions of the industry and existing regimes of trade distorting subsidies and technical barriers, the competitiveness of the coconut is seriously challenged.

In order to take advantage of these trends and developments, as well as cope with constraints and challenges, there is need for coconut to innovate and operate differently, to be creative with capital investments, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution -  every link in the value chain -  in order to deliver products that are better and cheaper, in developed and developing economies, for domestic and intra-regional markets, and for young and aging population groups alike. And the changing global scenario and the evolving regime of trade liberalization define the imperatives for drawing an Asia-Pacific coconut roadmap towards competitiveness in domestic, regional and global markets. And these imperatives include: focusing on Asia-Pacific markets; benchmarking production growth on population; promotion of tropical oils complementation; concentration on high value applications; building on health and environment advantage; developing science-based protocols; consolidating positions on issues; implementing defensive investments; building regional portal; and, formulating integrated regional strategy.

Moreover, the Community must move towards a new mode of cooperation. The Community must forge a strategic alliance and commit itself to an industry roadmap that defines common policies and strategies in production and trade of coconut products, and build a strong implementation infrastructure that facilitates sustained intra-regional actions and initiatives. And these common policies and strategies must include: implementation of cluster strategy; empowerment of the private sector; engagement in affirmative projects; and, redefinition of the role of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC).

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