IVORY COAST – Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa-producing country, will officially transition from physical paper documents associated with international trade for its horticultural products to electronic phytosanitary certification (ephyto) as of May 03.

According to the official, this transition from the conventional system to the digital one will make it possible to accelerate, facilitate, and participate in improving the credibility of commercial procedures, which until now faced many challenges.

Phytosanitary certificates are official documents issued by governments to confirm that shipments of plants and plant products being traded internationally are free of pests and diseases and, therefore, safe to import.

The ePhyto Solution allows countries to electronically exchange ePhytos with each other through a central hub, quickly, accurately, and at a low cost.

The risk of loss, damage, or fraud to the certificate is greatly reduced, as is the administrative burden on border agencies and businesses.

The IPPC Secretariat developed the e-solution to support the United Nations International Computing Centre (UN ICC) to bring phytosanitary certification into the digital era. The project was initiated and co-financed by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).

The Minister of State in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, said the certificate will be obtained from the online platform of the one-stop shop for foreign trade in Côte d’Ivoire (GUCE-CI).

He underlined that phytosanitary certificates “in paper version” have long shown their limits in terms of commercial exchanges, insofar as they impose, both on the phytosanitary administration and on private operators, various constraints, even deviations.

“These consist of administrative delays causing a useless waste of time. The frauds and falsifications observed, the risks of deterioration and loss of papers, as well as the costs of sending documents, constitute constraints likely to discredit both our exports and the commercial exchange procedures vis-à-vis our external partners.

“This is why, in the era of digitalization throughout the world, Côte d’Ivoire has chosen to set up the process of issuing phytosanitary certificates electronically to facilitate trade,” Adjoumani noted.

According to Kouassi Adjoumani, this digital technology will make it possible to obtain the reduction of the potential of fraudulent certificates, strengthening the competitiveness of Côte d’Ivoire in the international market.

Training sessions on the use of the new electronic process will be organized for the benefit of economic operators in the horticultural industry.

Ivory Coast follows the shift Kenya made in leading African nations in the introduction and adoption of the ePhyto certification in December.

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