Building on the significant steps already taken in ambitious government digitalisation efforts, agricultural exporters can now apply for phytosanitary certificates online, saving time and money by no longer having to make in-person applications.
Exporters of plants or plant products require phytosanitary certificates to show that their goods are free from pests and comply with international plant protection regulations. On February 1, 2022, Thailand’s Department of Agriculture (DOA) launched the ePhyto system starting with a pilot online applications service, beginning with 22 key commodities for export to China.
The initiative is part of a broader planned roll-out of electronic phytosanitary services, culminating in the full implementation of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ePhyto Solution, which is on track for completion early next year.
By embracing electronic certification through the ePhyto Solution, Thailand’s traders can expect to reduce or eradicate the risk of erroneous, lost, or damaged documents, which can cause delays leading to damaged or spoiled produce.
At an event to officially introduce the ePhyto system and the project held on May 3, DOA officials joined other key stakeholders from the Thai Customs Department, the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), the National Telecom Public Company Limited and private sector associations and companies.
“The DOA implementation of the ePhyto system will help facilitate trade for exporters. It will also help to simplify the process, enabling the exchange of important data electronically, which in turn will reduce the use of paper and allow us to trace information from the destination country back to our farmers and producers,” said Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs, Director-General of DOA. “Furthermore, stakeholders from Government and business can use this information in various ways, including in trade negotiations, in setting phytosanitary measures, and in analysing data to plan production more efficiently. All of this will lead to market expansion and increase the value of Thailand’s exports.”
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) through its implementing partner, GIZ, is supporting the DOA’s full integration into the IPPC ePhyto Hub through the country’s National Single Window (NSW), enabling Thailand to make exports more efficient, secure, and cost-effective.
Agriculture is a vital part of the Thailand economy, representing 8% of GDP and employing around 6.4 million people – about one-third of Thailand’s workforce comprising mostly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Thailand trades extensively with other ASEAN Member States and several large trading partners, including Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union, and the United States of America.
The Alliance’s work involves upgrading Information Technology systems to link the Single Window to the IPPC ePhyto Hub, allowing digital exchange of ePhytos with other member countries. The project also involves training government officers and relevant private sector stakeholders in its use, as well as raising awareness among traders of the benefits of adopting the IPPC ePhyto Solution.
Like in all Alliance-supported projects, public private partnership is vital to success and local companies are actively involved in the process. The event will also provide an opportunity for public private engagement.
“The successful launch of this pilot service reflects the ambition of everyone involved to implement systemic trade reform,” said Philippe Isler, the Alliance’s Director. “Adopting the ePhyto Solution will benefit the entire economy, enhancing Thailand’s competitiveness.” ■
About the Alliance
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a public-private partnership for trade-led growth, supporting governments in developing and least-developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. Alliance projects cut through red tape and end costly delays at borders by bringing together governments and businesses of all sizes as equal partners to deliver targeted trade reforms.
By emphasising digitalisation and delivering other best practices, Alliance projects enable businesses to trade more easily thanks to streamlined and more predictable processes. Governments save time and resources by modernising trade procedures while still safeguarding their borders. Ultimately, Alliance projects boost trade competitiveness and business conditions, which are key drivers of inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.
The Alliance is led by the Center for International Private Enterprise, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the World Economic Forum, in cooperation with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It is funded by the governments of the United States, Canada, Germany, and Denmark.