Ephyto- Electronic Phytosanitary Certificates Go ‘Live’ in Trinidad and Tobago

ePhyto is short for “electronic phytosanitary certificate”. An ePhyto is the electronic equivalent of a paper –based phytosanitary certificate with all relevant information now contained in this format. The ePhyto Certificates is produced in accordance with International Standards for Phytosanitary Measure( ISPM) 12.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an intergovernmental treaty signed by over 180 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago aiming to protecting the world’s plant resources from the spread and introduction of pests, and promoting safe trade. The Convention introduced International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) as its main tool to achieve its goals, making it the sole global standard setting organization for plant health.

In 2020, Trinidad and Tobago registered with the IPPC ePhyto Solutions and began generating test certificates to exchange in the ePhyto Hub. The testing of the system continued throughout 2021 with the addition of ’live’ exchanges of certificates and the re-issuance of re-export certificates. The overall objective of the exercise was to establish a paperless exchange of fraud-resistant electronic phytosanitary certificates quickly, accurately, and at a very low cost. Over that time several ePhyto industry workshops/awareness sessions were conducted with participants of several interest groups, these included, public and private sectors along with key industry stakeholders.

These training sessions were facilitated by Mr. Michael Perry, Export Specialist from the USDA, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection & Quarantine (PPQ) and member of the IPPC ePhyto Steering Group. Mr. Perry is currently providing the necessary technical guidance to the Agriculture Ministry, importers, exporters, trade associations on the benefits of adopting the IPPC ePhyto Solution and its migration onto the Single Electronic Window (SEW) platform.

Trinidad and Tobago has now fully transitioned to the ‘live’ exchange of ePhyto certificates using the IPPC Hub for all commercial consignments. The electronic exchange of certificates and accompanying documents for plants and plant products import/export is a significant step for this country in improving trade efficiency, thereby reducing the time and cost of conveying paper documentation through freight and third-party services and in so doing, making agricultural trade flow, smoother, safer and cheaper.

Furthermore, it reduces the protracted issues of non-compliances which arise due to misplacement or late submission of original phytosanitary certificates. The IPPC ePhyto solution also assists in the harmonization which is required for international best practices by creating homogenous conditions for trade; improved security; ability to address certification problems in advance of commodity arrival and resource planning prior to commodity arrival.

If you have questions about ePhyto or phytosanitary certificates, contact the Plant Quarantine Unit, Research Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries. Email plantquarantine.centeno@nullgov.tt



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