Countries In the Americas Make Headway with The Implementation of Electronic Veterinary Certification to Expedite Trade in Animal-Based Products

Officers from 30 countries recognized the urgent need for a standardized protocol for the issuance and exchange of certificates, which would make it possible to eliminate trade barriers, lower costs, increase traceability, and better comply with veterinary public health requirements.


The two-and-a-half-day event, held at IICA Headquarters in San José, Costa Rica, was attended by 43 participants, including national representatives, speakers, and organizers. Its objective was to identify ways to promote the implementation of veterinary e-certification systems in the Americas for international trade in animal-based products.

(IICA). The development of a standardized protocol for the issuance and multilateral exchange of electronic veterinary (e-veterinary) certificates is key to facilitating the import and export of animals and animal-based products, according to officers from 30 countries in the Americas responsible for the certification of agricultural products.

This was one of the conclusions reached at the technical meeting Electronic Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Certification in the Americas: Learning from past experiences and exploring new approaches, convened by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), with support from the United States Dairy Export Council and the Safe Supply of Affordable Food Everywhere (SSAFE) initiative.

The purpose of the two-and-a-half-day event, attended by 43 national representatives, speakers and organizers, was to identify ways to promote the implementation of e-veterinary certification systems in the Americas for international trade in animal-based products.

Representatives from 30 countries in the region shared their experiences with electronic phytosanitary and veterinary certification, reviewed the current state of its implementation in the Americas, and discussed the main requirements and ways to promote its increased use across the continent.

“This issue is of particular importance in terms of facilitating trade in animal-based products due to the digitization of procedures, as well as the protection that this offers to public health. Increased health and safety controls and the traceability of goods also improve compliance with veterinary public health requirements,” explained the manager of IICA’s Agricultural Health, Safety and Agrifood Quality Program, José Urdaz.

“E-certification makes processes more expeditious, lowers costs, prevents documentary fraud involving agrifood products, and builds trust among health authorities,” he added.

At the meeting, the country representatives also expressed interest in taking part in proposed future work aimed at developing a mechanism for the generation and multilateral exchange of e-veterinary certificates accessible to all potential stakeholders. The countries of the Americas, therefore, asked IICA and the STDF to assist them in securing commitment to the initiative.

“I’m delighted to see the interest of this region of the Americas in working on the e-certification system, now focused a little more on the veterinary area. At the STDF we have been working for several years on the issue of electronic SPS certification, always linked to trade facilitation designed to reduce trade barriers, and always respecting the health and lives of people, animals and plants,” said Simón Padilla, from the STDF secretariat.

At the event, the participants also reviewed existing initiatives in the region for the generation and exchange of e-veterinary certificates and identified multiple national options at the bilateral and regional levels, including the Pacific Alliance and the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA).

The Americas has been one of the regions spearheading the adoption of e-phytosanitary certification. More than 15 countries currently exchange e-phytosanitary certificates through the ePhyto Hub, and others are trialing the systems they require to do so.

The ePhyto Hub is a centralized exchange system for ePhytos (e-phytosanitary certificates) that can be used by all National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) once they are connected. The implementation of the use of the ePhyto Hub provides useful lessons for countries within the region and further afield.

The workshop program, the participants’ presentations, and the conclusions of the event can be found here.

IICAIICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.

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