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    VOICE-OVER: With a value of around 75 billion euros

    the agricultural sector accounts for about 17 per cent

    of goods exported by the Netherlands.

    This makes us the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products

    after the United States.

    Well-known products are flowers and plants,

    vegetables and fruit, dairy, fish, meat and cattle feed.

    (Pigs in a barn.)

    Yet the Netherlands is also leading the way on the high-tech side of agro products,

    like in the seed and seed processing sectors.

    The largest proportion of our exports are to neighbouring countries

    with which European agreements have been made, regarding quality and safety.

    Shipments to countries outside the EU require various documents.

    Documents that provide authorities in the importing countries with assurances

    about quality, origins and safety.

    One of the documents required is an export certificate.

    FREEK VAN ZOEREN (SPEAKS DUTCH): If a country

    sets certain requirements, then we, as a competent authority,

    must declare that the shipment arriving

    meets the requirements set by the applicable country.

    JAN MEIJER (SPEAKS DUTCH): It’s understandable

    that importing countries are allowed to set requirements,

    so they can safeguard the health of their own citizens, animals and plants.

    BEN ENSINK (SPEAKS DUTCH): Completing an administrative process

    by issuing a certificate and handing it over to the country of destination

    is sufficient for some countries.

    Other countries also demand a physical inspection of the products

    and then an inspector under the supervision of the competent authority must attend

    and check the shipment for all sorts of insects, diseases and such like.

    JOOST VAN WIJK (SPEAKS DUTCH): At the moment

    non-EU countries still receive paper certificates with a stamp and signature.

    We are currently working on a process

    whereby certificates are converted into electronic reports.

    VOICE-OVER: The conversion from paper to electronic certificates

    was initiated in 2005 with the CLIENT programme.

    MEIJER (SPEAKS DUTCH): We actually

    wanted to achieve two goals simultaneously,

    in conjunction with each other.

    Therein providing a reduction in the corporate burden

    and at the same time optimising the quality of the inspection process.

    Thus two things in conjunction.

    VOICE-OVER: And there are more advantages

    to an electronic version of the export certificate.

    A number of sectors, such as cut flowers or vegetables and fruit,

    have to deal with short turnarounds.

    It often only takes a few hours from order to transport.

    The less time taken up with documents and stamps, the better.

    There are fewer chances for mistakes

    since the certificates can be requested directly

    from the company’s operation system and data only has to be entered once.

    PETER VERBAAS (SPEAKS DUTCH): Thus the uniformity

    of the documents to non-EU countries has increased enormously,

    the rate of errors is almost zero.

    BEREND MEIJERINK (SPEAKS DUTCH): And that means nowadays

    it takes barely a minute, as it were, to submit an application.

    VOICE-OVER: There is also less risk of fraud

    because the documents aren’t sent with the shipment

    but the information is sent directly from authority to authority.

    And finally, great benefits could also be gained

    by using the various quality systems and checks

    that have already been carried out by the companies and sector institutes.

    After all, no additional inspections are needed

    if a requirement has already been met.

    Thus, for example, the identification and registration system was linked,

    so that when exporting live cattle

    the cattle passports no longer need to be inspected.

    The dairy sector has also made

    its database of existing quality checks available to CLIENT.

    JAN MAARTEN VRIJ (SPEAKS DUTCH): We already had

    those assurances from the Netherlands controlling authority for dairy products.

    Which is a quality-controlling organisation, an independent organisation

    that has existed in the dairy sector for years and that provides those assurances.

    They’re in a database. That database is part of CLIENT Export.

    And with every request for an export certificate

    the database is consulted to see if the party complies with all of the requirements.

    MEIJER (SPEAKS DUTCH): Hence the large-scale operation.

    We are dealing with many sectors,

    all with different products and different requirements from many countries

    and involving large stakeholders.

    We don’t want to take any chances,

    so we’ve done it step by step, sector by sector.

    VOICE-OVER: Furthermore, direct collaboration was sought

    with partners like the European Union,

    the World Customs Organization and the United Nations.

    BENNO SLOT (SPEAKS DUTCH): In the beginning

    the Netherlands put a lot of effort into the United Nations work group

    to standardise the reports and exchange mechanism. That has been completed.

    VOICE-OVER: An information analysis was undertaken

    to achieve a system that is partly generic

    but also considers sector-specific requirements.

    The operating processes of six sectors were examined

    and they provided an overview

    of the overlaps and differences between the sectors.

    PATRICK LAENEN (SPEAKS DUTCH): The advantage is

    that you get a well-thought-out and focused approach.

    The business processes can be redesigned

    without being obstructed by working methods developed in the past

    and working methods that were often based on paper.

    VOICE-OVER: An analysis was also made

    of all the data that needs to be provided to

    the various authorities during the export process.

    Using clever combinations, the amount of data that companies need to collate

    could be drastically reduced.

    FREDERIK HEIJINK (SPEAKS DUTCH): This work group

    met for a few months and they were able

    to reduce the total data set from 1,200 elements to 200.

    That is a considerable gain for corporations

    and an enormous simplification in data provisioning.

    VOICE-OVER: Of course, at the same time as the development

    of the Dutch part of CLIENT Export

    they collaborated with other countries,

    so they would be able to receive and process the certificates.

    NICO HORN (SPEAKS DUTCH): It’s more important

    to have global harmonisation

    than that our particular working methods are followed.

    VOICE-OVER: By now the programme is used in most sectors

    and the number of countries participating in

    electronic exchanges has greatly increased.

    If this trend continues, will we soon be able to provide paperless certificates?

    SLOT (SPEAKS DUTCH): It is more complicated

    than it seems. You could say: Get rid of the paper and then you are paperless.

    But you need to agree on what will replace it.

    And, in particular, the irrefutability of the electronic information

    is in itself an important item.

    So we have included a signed report whereby an electronic signature

    directly from the competent authority confirms without a doubt

    that the information originates from us.

    VOICE-OVER: Finally, delivering and processing export data

    also offers further perspectives for integrating government service provisions.

    VRIJ (SPEAKS DUTCH): For example,

    at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce

    more or less the same data has to be entered

    for a Certificate of Origin as for a Veterinary Certificate.

    So why can’t we do that in one go?

    An exporter also has to file an export declaration with customs

    and has to enter the same data, and more.

    So there should eventually be a solution

    where identical data only has to be entered once there as well.

    SLOT (SPEAKS DUTCH): That is exactly

    the point we’re currently at.

    We are following two lines of future developments.

    The paperless route internationally and for the national system

    the maximum reuse of the available information.

    VERBAAS (SPEAKS DUTCH): We fully believe

    that CLIENT Export is the way ahead. And we’re looking forward to the next step.