Alliance Project to Digitise Trade Certification Processes for Ecuador’s Fishery and Agri-businesses

Ecuadorean banana exporters will pilot “ePhyto” solution to cutting red tape on plant shipments

Ecuador’s fishery and agricultural producers, large and small, will benefit from easier, more predictable, and less costly formalities around exporting and importing a range of food, plant, and plant-based products thanks to two new projects launched today by the government and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

Both projects will support the authorities in replacing paper-based trade processes with digital solutions that allow them to establish the safety and origin of agricultural products far more efficiently, while also easing the compliance burden for businesses.

Imported plant products, chemicals and other inputs are crucial for domestic fishery and agri-businesses, but traders can be frustrated by the complexity, uncertainty, and costs associated with obtaining the necessary clearances for these goods. For exporters, their push into foreign markets can be hampered by the time needed to comply with a range of sanitary requirements, including checks performed by state-owned laboratories.

Ecuador has made progress in digitising some trade processes but around 40% remain paper-based, requiring in-person filing and pickup of a range of documents. Approvals of physical documentation can take up to three days as opposed to a single day when handled electronically. The country also has traditionally relied on traders filing paper phytosanitary certificates and examining them on arrival at its ports of entry and exit, slowing shipments that might be damaged or spoiled by delays.

One project will support the government in increasing the number of electronic services provided through the Ecuadorian single window (VUE), as well as automating a range of routine administrative tasks at laboratories and sanitary agencies to boost efficiency. A second project will improve processes around agricultural exports through introduction of the electronic phytosanitary (ePhyto) Solution created and operated by the International Plant Protection Convention.

“It is very important to have the support of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, which is an international level public-private space and, as such, completely shares the sense of collaboration we promote, as essential engine for society,” said Julio Prado, Ecuador’s Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries. “Its participation in these projects contributes to shape a more competitive country, open to the world and ready to take advantage of the great opportunities Ecuadorians come across.”

The ePhyto project will initially focus on banana exporters, testing the digital certificates with a select group of 30 companies before broadening its reach. The country has 8,500 banana producers, most of them small and medium-sized producers supplying approximately 300 export companies.

“Given that micro, small, and medium enterprises represent more than 99% of Ecuador’s private sector, these kinds of time and cost savings can make a tremendous difference as they seek to grow and break into international markets,” said Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. “In implementing these projects, the government is showing its determination to enhance Ecuador’s trade competitiveness by removing the unnecessary burdens on business imposed by paper processes, while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its own agencies.”

The greater availability of electronic services through the VUE single window are expected to particularly benefit Ecuador’s agriculture and fisheries sectors, smoothing the path for imports of fertilizers, machinery, and aquaculture supplies, while also making it easier to obtain export certificates for their own produce.