Fiji takes final steps in transforming agri-food trade

A landmark initiative to fully introduce electronic phytosanitary (ePhyto) certification for global Fijian trade in plant and plant products has been marked by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) Board Chairman Mr. Naushad Ali, at an official launch of the project on Monday.

In July 2020, Fiji became one of the first countries in the region to use electronic phytosanitary certification, exchanging ePhytos with New Zealand. It is now taking the final steps to fully integrate into the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ePhyto Hub, enabling the country’s vital agri-food sector to exchange necessary export and import documentation with key markets quickly, accurately, and at low cost.

This adoption will streamline trade with key markets in several, practical ways, including improving planning for the arrival and clearance of goods; expediting clearance of produce from ports; allowing faster, more cost-effective completion of required certification; automating the process for issuing ePhytos to non-registered traders; and enabling the quick replacement of erroneous paperwork.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) is working with the BAF, to enable this seamless electronic exchange with other main export markets, including the United States and Australia and other countries in the Pacific region already linked to the IPPC ePhyto Hub.

The project, which is expected to conclude in mid-2023, involves connecting traders and satellite BAF offices to the new system, providing appropriate training in requisite IT equipment and assisting BAF in reviewing and revising its practices to take full advantage of the digitalisation process.

Fijian businesses are actively supporting this initiative and are assisting BAF in the transition phase, participating in training and engaging in early testing of the new system.

Further, the private sector also committed to working alongside Government on a project steering committee to bring about a mutually successful conclusion for the country and for traders.

“The Alliance is partnering with IPPC in several countries to support the introduction of the ePhyto solution, recognising the powerful, transformative potential for national competitiveness, for individual businesses and also for consumers,” said Alliance Director, Philippe Isler. “We are delighted to be supporting Fiji to join the fast-growing list of countries realising the benefits of joining the IPPC Hub.”

“The ePhyto project demonstrates the technological advances we are moving towards – a world of great opportunity and improved efficiency. ePhyto adoption will change the way BAF operates, providing services to its local, regional, and international stakeholders,” said BAF Board Chairman Mr Naushad Ali. “The IPPC ePhyto solution is the missing link in BAF’s pursuit of a safe and efficient trading vision that is now being realised and this only has been possible with global partners such as the Alliance and IPPC in providing the necessary technical and funding assistance. Related to this is the support from the World Bank as it looks to further enhance ePhyto system connectivity through assimilation with the cargo clearance process.”