BackgroundOne of the greatest threats to vital pesticide tools and maximum residue limits (MRLs) for U.S. farmers and other farmers around the world, is the reduction or removal of MRLs from the European Union, which has a spillover effect of forcing farmers outside of Europe to discontinue use of important pesticides or modify their use pattern in such a way as to make them ineffective against damaging pests and diseases. With potential loses of EU markets, countries must find ways to expand trade opportunities and support their farmers by providing and maintaining critical pest control tools and trade standards.Trade between the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region is growing more quickly than any other region and is set to continue an explosive trajectory. This is particularly true for fresh fruit and vegetable commodities, which are disproportionately affected by pesticide MRL-related trade barriers.Access to newer, low-risk, pesticide products continue to be challenging for farmers around the world. Even when the products are available, farmers in all countries, including the United States, face trade barriers when residue standards differ, or do not exist, in export markets. These obstacles, and calls for collaborative action, have been highlighted at the 3rd Global Minor Use Summit (Montreal, October 2017), the World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee (Geneva, October 2017), and the 11th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference (Argentina, December 2017). At these international conferences, it was recognized that the foundation of working toward aligned MRLs and providing critical pest control tools for farmers originates with strong and coordinated national pesticide registration systems.DescriptionThe Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recognizes that to ensure continued market access for U.S. agricultural exports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture must provide technical assistance to Asia officials to assist in the development and adoption of science-based and trade-facilitating policies. While the United States is one of Asia’s largest trading partners, sanitary, phytosanitary and food safety regulations that are inconsistent with international standards continue to disrupt exports of U.S. agricultural products into the region.This program helps partner countries in Asia’s regional economic communities, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), to understand and adopt regulations consistent with U.S. and international standard setting bodies as well as ensure compliance with the APEC MRL Guidelines. The program is designed and organized in conjunction with U.S. universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other U.S. Government agencies, agribusinesses, and consultants.The USDA aims to align pesticide registration systems and MRLs standard setting across Asia, and to do so based on the U.S. regulatory system and international standard setting bodies. Alignment of registration systems and trade standards based on risk is a complex process, involving multiple regulatory agencies and technical staff across the regions, and requires a multifaceted approach involving experts from a broad array of subject matters. Aligned trade standards support exports of U.S. agricultural products to foreign markets.Program Objectives1) Encourage science-based and trade facilitating policy reform in Asia based on international SPS standards and obligations.2) Improve standard operating procedures (SOPs) for inspection, sampling, and treatments at ports of entry based on risk principles and international standards.3) Build robust regulatory framework for biopesticide registration both nationally and regionally4) Leverage active work streams in MRL registration, pesticide communication, import MRLs, and alignment of international standards for the creation of a larger, well-coordinated pesticide MRL capacity-building program in Asia.