More than 10 Samoan exporters attended the opening of the PACER Plus ePhyto Workshop in Apia on Tuesday, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF).
The three-day workshop is funded by the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus Implementation Unit. PACER Plus is a regional development-centered trade and investment agreement aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Agreement is designed to support Pacific Island countries to stimulate economic growth by becoming more active partners in, and benefit from, regional and global trade.
Ten countries are currently parties to the Agreement: Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’auli Leuatea Polataivao Fosi, officially opened the workshop stressing the importance of the activity to Samoan exporters as it fosters opportunities in using technology to exchange phytosanitary certificates through a safe and secure platform.
“ePhyto promotes opportunities to improve bilateral trade in the region and other parts of the world. It will advance trade efficiency by reducing costs associated with bilateral negotiations and reduce fraudulent certificates. The ePhyto system will improve trade thereby improving incomes, creating more employment opportunities, and thereby enhancing economic development,” said La’auli.
ePhyto is short for “electronic phytosanitary certificate”.
The International Plant Protection Convention ePhyto Solution is a tool that transitions paper phytosanitary certificate information into a digital phytosanitary certificate or “ePhyto”. This electronic exchange between countries makes trade safer, faster, and cheaper.
Manual phytosanitary certification creates issues for government and industry due to erroneous, lost, fraudulent, and delayed certification. ePhyto looks to minimise or eliminate such trade facilitation problems.
“This workshop will build the capacity of Samoa, as a party to PACER Plus, providing the change management assistance necessary for government officials and industry to become proficient in using the ePhyto system.
This covers the transition from paper to electronic, training on the IT skills needed for issuing ePhyto, and ‘training the trainers’ to ensure skills are transferred on,” said PACER Plus Implementation Unit’s Trade and Investment Adviser, Alipate Tavo.
The Minister also thanked the support of PACER Plus in facilitating safe trade in Samoa.
“I am very delighted to acknowledge on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, our appreciation to PACER Plus and the Pacific Community for all your continued support and collaboration to facilitate safe trade.
“It is extremely important that we work together because it paves the way to a promising future for trade between Samoa and other countries.
“It is a light at the end of the tunnel for many of our Samoan exporters who are looking for opportunities to reduce red tapes and fraudulent certificates,” said La’auli.
The PACER Plus ePhyto Workshop will conclude on Friday, 9 December.