International veterinary certificates describing the animal health and public health requirements that are fulfilled by exported animals and animal products are essential to ensure safe international trade. The majority of countries use paper-based systems.
A positive uptake of digital technologies
Digital technologies have the potential to create efficiencies within sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) systems, facilitate trade, and lower administrative costs for countries and traders. They can reduce the risk of trade fraud, make trade systems more accessible for businesses, and help countries address food safety risks and risks to human health. But some of these technologies can be challenging to implement, and can give rise to new operational challenges, including the need for long-term investment.
Countries are using various forms of digital technologies in their SPS systems. Notably, some countries have adopted digital technologies in compliance verification processes for imported and exported plant and animal products, whereas many still rely on paper-based systems. The majority of country activity in this area concerns the use of e-certification systems.
While there is increasing adoption of e-certification in respect of phytosanitary (plant-based) products, the adoption of these systems in respect of sanitary (animal-based) products and livestock is less widespread and the understanding of its implementation among Veterinary Services is limited. In addition, implementing e-veterinary certification can be challenging particularly in developing countries where it can be technically complex and expensive.
Electronic veterinary certification and a Standards and Trade Development Facility project
Increasing interest in the development of electronic veterinary certification (e-veterinary certification) by a number of OIE Members led to the development and approval of a WTO Standards and Trade Development Facility project (Project STDF/PG/609). The project aimed to gain a better understanding of current practices implemented by some OIE Members, both developed and developing, as well as relevant work in other international organisations on e-certification and single window. The project report also provided recommendations for facilitating the future development of a e-veterinary certification for use in a single window system to Veterinary Authorities, the OIE and donor communities.
What is the OIE planning to do?
The OIE Executive Committee reviewed the recommendations provided in the STDF report taking into consideration the OIE mandate, current priorities and available resources and confirmed that the OIE’s focus should remain on establishing international standards and associated guidelines that support the uptake of e-veterinary certification. The OIE will not develop or implement an electronic veterinary certification platform, but will work with international partner organisations to ensure OIE standards and model certificates are able to be incorporated into models and templates such as Single Window or other platforms, developed through either bilateral or multilateral activities. The OIE will also continue to engage with international partner organisations on this topic which is likely to continue to grow in importance in the future.