Exchange Mechanism

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(On-screen text: Electronic Export Certificates, Exchange Mechanism.)


VOICE-OVER: Today, many agricultural products travel the world.From producer to trader. From exporter to importer. From wholesale to markets and consumers. All countries that import these products have specific requirements to protect domestic nature, crops, animals and people. To avoid harmful organisms entering their territory, the authorities of the importing country ask their counterpart in the exporting country to guarantee that all requirements are met. This document is known as the export certificate that belongs to all consignments that carry products with import requirements.

With evolving modern communication techniques, these export certificates are increasingly created and maintained digitally. With the publication of common standards countries can adjust their national certification systems to comply. This way, certified information can easily and safely be exchanged between exporting and importing authorities. The final perspective of this development is a fully digital information exchange between the authorities of exporting and importing countries.

(Lines connect computers.)

Then, consignments travel the physical world and information and certificates travel the digital world. These two worlds stay connected with identification and registration tokens, like numbers of sealed containers, plant passports and animal identification tags. Electronic certificates that are approved by the Dutch authorities are stored in a secured repository that’s accessible to the importing authorities. When they collect a certificate, its status will change. It can be accepted or rejected, in case certain products are banned for import.

It’s also possible that the certificate doesn’t meet certain requirements or is indistinct to the importing authority. Then a request for a replacement is sent. If the certificate is not replaced, it will be revoked. Normally, the authorities of exporting and importing countries will discuss the issues and a replacement certificate will follow.

When accepted, the certificate meets the requirements. However, this doesn’t mean the consignment is accepted, because we have two parallel realms that differ in timing and availability. In the physical reality a consignment might travel for hours, days or even weeks. However, the information on requirements and safeguards and the certificate is available instantly.

Now, with an accepted electronic certificate importing authorities can easily plan inspections way before planes, trains, trucks or ships arrive. This way inspection officers can target their work more effectively and thus protect the interests of their countries better.

On-screen text: Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. More information: