The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states are rich in agricultural land and major exporters of agricultural and forestry products such as food, cash and medicinal crops. ASEAN is home to 15,000+ major ASEAN and global multinational enterprises (MNEs) and SMEs. Global inward foreign direct investment into agriculture, fishery and forestry value chains in ASEAN valued at US$2.6 billion in 2019, of which 65% were intra-ASEAN investments.
As the demand for food increases due to a growing population (the region’s population will hit 800 million in the 2050s), rising incomes, and urbanization in the 10 countries that make up the ASEAN agriculture will continue to attract foreign and domestic investment. Increased investment in food, agriculture and forestry in the ASEAN region is needed to help achieve food and nutrition security, improve food safety, and create economic growth and opportunities.
Private sector investment can be directly managed (e.g. farms and plantation), indirect (e.g. contract farming) or a combination of the two. Examples of such investments include (but are not limited to): farms and plantations, seed or input production facilities, sugar refineries, flour mills, packaging plants, warehouses, lumber yards, or fish canneries.
The Guidelines distil the global best practices for ensuring that larger scale agribusiness investments are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable and inclusive. It provides future partners of such investments - from the public, private and civil society sectors - a roadmap of the important ingredients in such future investments.
In September 2017, the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) agreed to develop the ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (the “Guidelines”) at their 39th annual meeting. The Guidelines are grounded in the Committee on World Food Security, Principles for Responsible Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS RAI) and reflect the specificities and characteristics of ASEAN Member States (AMS). The ASEAN Guidelines were adopted by AMAF in October 2018.
The Guidelines are part of a broad range of initiatives aimed at ensuring that investments in agriculture meet global standards and promote responsible and sustainable investment. In addition, ASEAN has already begun a systematic process to adhere to global standards, for example with the adoption of the Vision & Strategic Plan for Food, Agriculture & Forestry (2016); the related four Strategic Plans of Action for FAF; the Regional Guidelines on Food Security & Nutrition Policy (2017), and the PPP Regional Framework for Technology Development in FAF (2017).