UN FAO moves towards e-Phyto certificates
The UN FAO International Plant Protection Convention's (IPPC) Commission on Phytosanitary Measures has agreed to develop a global system of electronic phytosanitary certificates, known as e-Phyto. It is envisaged that the system will eventually replace the paper certificates that are used to ensure that traded commodities are free of specified pests and diseases. A central hub would voluntarily accept electronic certificates from national plant protection organisations (NPPOs) in exporting countries and make them available to the NPPOs of importing countries. It would provide a simple and secure exchange method, eliminating the need for countries to negotiate exchange protocols bilaterally with every trading partner, the FAO points out. The e-Phyto system is expected to be less costly than the current system and will strengthen global harmonisation and adherence to IPPC standards, the Organisation adds. Several countries already use some form of electronic certification, including Australia, Canada, Kenya, South Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand and US. The IPPC is planning a pilot project to build capacity in developing countries to enable them to join e-Phyto on a gradual basis.