Facilitating trade: going paperless with e-certification
STDF seminar highlights benefits for developing countries
STDF’s expert-led seminar on electronic SPS certification held on 28 June brought together over 150 people from WTO Members, international organizations and global business. The seminar shared the latest knowledge and good practice on automated systems operating worldwide and their impact on facilitating trade by cutting time and costs. 
Seminar highlights
  • Electronic SPS certification can contribute to the faster movement of agri-produce and to reducing transaction costs. It can do this through improving compliance with regulations and policies, reducing errors and fraud, supporting risk management and enhancing trust among partners. Processes, institutions and legislation need to first be in place.
  • Internationally recognized standards facilitate exchange of electronic SPS certificates by harmonizing requirements and exchange frameworks, reducing the resources required for bilateral arrangements amongst trading partners.
  • Prior to embarking on automating certification systems, developing countries should carry out a comprehensive analysis of their export/import business process to identify outstanding needs. Any decision to invest in an electronic certification system should be made after due consideration of the costs and benefits.
Sessions included updates on and programmes from IPPC, Codex, OIE, UNECE, WCO, UNESCAP, UNCTAD and the European Commission. 22 countries or regional blocs worldwide have fully implemented eCERT, the standard used for electronic SPS certificates, or are at implementation stage.

The seminar looked at the value of the Single Window as the single entry point for all import, export and transit requirements. If information is electronic, data is submitted once and reused for multiple procedures. 70+ countries have, or are close to having, a nationwide Single Window in place. 

Developing countries were seen to experience the most challenges to going paperless, but they also stand to make important gains, as shared experiences from Kenya and the Philippines showed. More focus is needed on technology uptake and capacity building.
Benefits of e-certification
•    Processes, number of documents and time cut 
•    Improved competency and efficiency in service delivery
•    Greater confidence in authenticity of certificates

What needs to be in place
•    Optimal certification system including adequate organizational structure
     and institutional capacity
•    National legal framework and political will
•    Adequate IT infrastructure and capabilities within the SPS authorities
•    Sustainable business model with proper cost recovery mechanism
Listen to the seminar podcast and access the presentations here.

For more information on STDF’s research work on SPS issues and trade facilitation, click here and watch STDF’s ‘Safe Trade Solutions’ film which covers Chile, Peru and Colombia’s experiences in making SPS border controls more effective and efficient while ensuring safe trade.
Other STDF events in June 2016
Spicing-up Development Assistance:
How SPS requirements triggered a transformational change in Sri Lanka's cinnamon sector 

On 21 June, the STDF and UNIDO organized an information session on their joint project, implemented in collaboration with The Spice Council of Sri Lanka. Read a news item on the information session here.
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