A. General Information

1. Title

Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) – ePhyto Solution Project

2. Status of the project
3. Implementation period of the project/service:
5. Geographical coverage
Global: Europe, Asia and the Pacific, North America, Latin America, Africa, Western Asia
Participating countries: Canada, United States of America, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Albania, Algeria, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Eritrea, Georgia, Honduras, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mauritania, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Ukraine
Hub Point: Switzerland
6. Participating agencies/entities of the project/service:
a. Development stage
Lead agencies/entities
International Plant Protection
Convention (IPPC) Secretariat
Other participating agencies/entities
United Nations International Computing Centre, Standards and Trade Development Facility
b. Operational stage
Lead agencies/entities (op)
International Plant Protection
Convention (IPPC) Secretariat
Other participating agencies/entities (op)
United Nations International Computing Centre, Standards and Trade Development Facility
7. Main stakeholders/beneficiaries of the project
Traders (big enterprises)
Traders (SMEs)
Customs brokers
Other Government Agencies (OGAs)
8. Business process category of the project
Regulatory/official control

B. Lessons Learned

9. Summary description of the project/service
Brief Summary

The project established a hub to facilitate the exchange of ePhytos between “contracting parties” or National Plant Protection Organizations. The Hub is a means to simplify and standardize the exchange of certificates by eliminating the need for bilateral agreement on the factors for the exchange.

a. Objective(s)

This project sought to improve the capacity of countries to facilitate safe, secure, and efficient trade in plants and plant products through the establishment of a global framework for electronic phytosanitary certification. The system, the ePhyto Solution, was established and is now fully operational and accessible to all contracting parties wishing to join.

b. Business need for the project (background)

Since the late 1970s, exporting countries have relied on paper phytosanitary certificates to provide assurances that the plant or plant product being exported to another country meets the phytosanitary requirements of the importing country. Phytosanitary certificates are issued by a country’s NPPO based on an International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) adopted by the CPM. Although this system has been employed relatively efficiently through the years, the smooth and efficient facilitation of trade has often suffered due to a number of issues related to the use of paper phytosanitary certificates.

c. Business process covered*

The safe, secure, and efficient electronic exchange of Electronic Phytosanitary Certificate.

d. Overall architecture and functionalities*

The project established a central server (referred to as a “Hub”) to facilitate the exchange of electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) between “contracting parties” or National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs), as well as a simple web application for the production, sending and receiving of ePhytos referred to as a Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS). The Hub is a means to simplify and standardize the exchange of certificates by eliminating the need for bilateral agreement on the factors for the exchange. The GeNS provides countries that do not have their own national system with a simple method of implementing the use of electronic certificates for trade in plants and plant products. Together, these two main components are referred to as the ePhyto Solution, which represents an alternative to the current practice of exchanging paper certificates or achieving electronic certificate exchange through costly and time-consuming bilateral agreements. The third component is the establishment of a harmonized method for the exchange, which is embodied in the XML mapping document.

e. Relevant document/figure
10. Documents and data exchanged via the project

Electronic Phytosanitary Certificate.

11. Data models/databases, proprietary solutions, hybrid approaches
12. Main challenges faced during the project
13. Lessons learned from the project

Most importantly, all participating countries need detailed prior project planning to ensure effective implementation and change management. There is an overall lack of awareness or information in general by both government and business, with regard to the costs of doing business using paper certification versus electronic certification. While there is overwhelming agreement that digital is faster, cheaper, safer and better, there are no readily available resources/studies that compare the costs of the paper process with the digital one. There is a large learning curve in managing to convey to senior decision-makers exactly what ePhyto is and what it can mean for their country. While the idea of electronic certification is absolutely supported, the ability to message the idea of ePhyto upwards sufficiently is lacking. Multinational collaboration works extremely well, especially in cases related to training on the GeNS system. It has been considerably easier to access funding sources through emphasis on trade facilitation, as opposed to SPS issues, agriculture in general, or plant quarantine. Organizations such as the World Bank and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation have been very willing partners in assisting with the implementation of the ePhyto Solution, with specific emphasis on the Trade Facilitation Agreement aspects of using ePhyto. Interaction with industry groups proved useful, as it provided insights into industry practices, needs and requirements, which in turn have facilitated improvements and adjustments to the system.

14. Main benefit(s) of the project
Enhanced regulatory compliance*
Transaction Cost savings*
Transaction Time savings
Simplified process
Increased trade flow
14A. Elaborations/detailed description on benefits gained

As a result of the development of the web-based GeNS, developing countries are now coming onboard the ePhyto Solution at an increasing rate, meaning that they are able to issue and receive ePhytos on a basis equal to any developed country. This, in turn, eliminates a number of the problems associated with the issuance of paper certificates in developing countries, a number of which have been described in STDF reports on facilitating safe trade in Southeast Asia and southern Africa. For a producer in a developing country, the capacity to ensure that a product reaches a market, in particular a foreign market, is an achievement in itself. Ensuring that the product reaches the market even more quickly, as the PC arrives before the shipment, means that there is a reduced likelihood of product delay and/or damage, given that the speed of the transaction has increased. In addition, for an importing NPPO, in either a developing or a developed country, the receipt of an ePhyto prior to the arrival of the shipment means that the often understaffed NPPO and customs officials can arrange, within a sufficient time frame, the work schedules that will, in turn, result in cost savings.

15. Technical/financial/capacity building/other assistance
16. Future plan for expansion of the project

Having successfully demonstrated the concept of exchanging phytosanitary certification information digitally, the strongest recommendation that can be made is to expand the use of the system beyond the phytosanitary community to the broader sanitary and phytosanitary world.

17. Other information or relevant references on the project
18. Relevant document regarding the project

C. Relevant Standards

20. Electronic message standard
20A. Electronic message standard supporting the project
20B. Type of standard for electronic message applied for the project
21. Technical communication standard
21A. Technical communication standard supporting the project
21B. Type of technical communication standard applied for the project
22. Security-related standards*
22A. Security-related standard supporting the project
22B. Type of security-related standard applied for the project
23. Other Technical Information
23A. Interface developed for data exchange with an internal system
23B. Other technical implementation information