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NZ leads the way with Electronic Certification

19 November 2002 Media Statement

New Zealand leads the way with Electronic Certification System

An electronic certification system developed in New Zealand has been accepted as the model to be used by APEC countries.

E-cert, a health certificate system used to clear the export and import of food and other animal products, was adopted by Ministers at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Joint Ministerial Meeting in Los Cabos, held in Mexico recently.

Minister for Food Safety Annette King and Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton said international acceptance of a New Zealand-based web system was a good example of the innovation this country is known for.

“There’s no doubt that we are leading the way in this regard. The beauty of this system is its simplicity and the acceptance of our system in this way is a credit to those that have worked on it,” Ms King said.

“The original ambition of the designers of this system within MAF Food Assurance Authority (now the New Zealand Food Safety Authority) was to help our exporters and improve product traceability,” Ms King said.

“It soon became clear, however, that it could also usefully be adopted as an international standard and be used for more than animal products.”

E-cert provides a robust way of passing on a government to government assurance that the New Zealand products meet the importing government’s requirements in terms of food safety. It is also faster and cheaper than other electronic systems.

Mr Sutton says: “E-cert reduces the cost of compliance and reduces fraud. It gives New Zealand a competitive edge because we are one of a few countries in the world that can clearly show what has happened to an exported product from the time the animal or plant enters a factory for processing in New Zealand until the time it gets to the importing country. It also provides a level of security to the importing country.”

New Zealand and Australia have worked together on streamlining export documentation systems but the web-based concept that has been accepted by APEC came from New Zealand.

New Zealand began using the system in 1998 for meat transfers within New Zealand. Export certificates through E-cert to Canada started in June 2001, and the USA, Mexico and the Czech Republic (for wool only) began this year. Other countries are scheduled to join before the end of the year. A ‘world first’ pilot is also underway with the Netherlands for electronic transfer of certificates.

The United States is moving towards linking its import authority’s computers to the New Zealand certification system, which provides a chance for the United States to clear the food products before they even leave New Zealand.


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