Alliance Convenes Officials in Colombia, Ecuador to Exchange Knowledge, Success Stories, and Lessons Learned Regarding Risk Management Systems

With more than 25 projects underway and more than a dozen in development, it’s no surprise that the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation can count on its growing roster of partner countries to spread the word about its success in making trade simpler, faster, and more cost-effective.

After coordinating through the Alliance, officials at Colombia’s National Institute for Drug and Food Surveillance (INVIMA) recently met with their counterparts at Ecuador’s National Agency for Regulation, Control, and Health Surveillance (ARCSA) to offer insight into Colombia’s new risk management system for shipments.

Previously, INVIMA physically inspected 100% of food, drugs, and other products that arrived at the country’s borders. Such inspections were a vital part of the agency’s playbook for ensuring that essential goods were safe for the public. However, the across-the-board inspections were time-consuming and costly for INVIMA and businesses, which need to keep goods moving, particularly perishable products.

The Alliance worked with INVIMA to introduce a risk management system to facilitate trade while protecting public health. That system resulted in a 30% reduction in physical inspections and an average savings of USD 379 per container, saving importers USD 8.8 million in 18 months alone.

Those numbers piqued the interest of ARCSA, which sought to learn more about INVIMA’s success stories and lessons learned in this arena.

During a two-hour virtual meeting on September 13, representatives of the two governments discussed the benefits of the risk management system, including its legal and administrative structure, IT design and system planning, and how it fits in with Colombia’s broader trade policy. The information will support ARCSA’s self-assessment and planning.

“Many thanks to the Alliance for this opportunity to exchange knowledge about INVIMA’s risk management strategy,” said Carlos Portes de Sucre, ARCSA Ecuador’s Technical Director of Health Risks. “The ideas shared in this open dialogue will help us in our efforts to better assess the risk levels of imports and exports arriving at the Ecuadorian border. We hope to begin work on our own initiative in the coming months.”

“We’re always excited to share our knowledge and best practices and to accelerate the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement,” added José Raúl Perales, Deputy Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. “We greatly appreciate INVIMA’s openness and willingness to share its experience with trade facilitation reform and commend ARCSA for its desire to follow best practice in this area and advance trade facilitation.”