Electronic phytosanitary certification – e-phyto – is the key to boosting and improving international food trade

In April, Argentina hosted the Regional e-Phyto Workshop, organized by the Plant Health Committee of the Southern Cone (COSAVE) and the National Agrifood Health and Quality Service (SENASA) of Argentina, with the participation of specialists from the public and private sectors from various Latin American countries.

The three-day workshop aimed to improve knowledge of electronic phytosanitary certification, increase the participation of countries in the region, exchange information among countries, promote networks of experts and identify areas of cooperation.

By consensus, the specialists present considered the electronic phytosanitary certification – e-Phyto – to be a key tool for streamlining and making electronic trade in Latin America and the Caribbean more transparent, and its use should be increased.

Argentina and Chile were the pioneer countries in the region with electronic sanitary certification. Diana Guillén, president of SENASA, pointed out that the e-Phyto certificate was a tool that began to be implemented several years ago and was accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, due to circulation restrictions.

“Quarantine accelerated the process of incorporating a tool that today is fundamental. Today we use it for food trade with more than 30 countries. Thirty-seven percent of what we export in Argentina and a considerably greater percentage of what we import is certified with this system”, Guillén pointed out.

Diego Quiroga, President of COSAVE and National Director of Plant Protection of Argentina, spoke about the long history and progress made with respect to electronic certification, which has made it possible to have a useful tool for many countries and of great value for the commercial exchange of agricultural products in South America.

In this regard, Manuel Otero, General Director of IICA, said that ” Ephyto offers many benefits, as it not only streamlines transactions, but allows us to reduce ambiguity and increase the transparency of operations”. He suggested that electronic certification could be a tool to assist in expanding intraregional food trade within Latin America and the Caribbean, stating that, “Today, trade within the region is only 14.5%, as compared to the European Union, where it is 65%. We have a far way to go, and this tool can assist us considerably. We need to share technology and to work together more closely. This is the way to increase trade and integration”.

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Source: IICA

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