ECONOMYNEXT – A defunct email of Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) caused big losses for fruit and vegetable exporters after European Union warnings of interceptions of shipments were not received in time, a new study has revealed.
Failure of government agencies to provide accurate contact details can have far reaching consequences, according to a study by Verité Research, a private think-tank, of difficulties faced by Sri Lankan agriculture exporters.
One example of this was the failure of NPQS to ensure that the email address they provided to receive notifications from other trading-partner countries was functional.
EU Member States notified the NPQS regarding a total of 544 interceptions on fruit, vegetables and plants for planting from Sri Lanka between 01 January 2011 and 31 December 2014
The notifications were sent using EUROPHYT, the EU’s notification system for plant health interceptions, according to the study on ‘Sri Lanka's Domestic Barriers to Trade: Case Studies of Agricultural Exports’.
It said 422 of these interceptions were due to the presence of harmful organisms and te remaining 122 were due mainly to non-compliant or missing phytosanitary certificates.
“However, NPQS did not receive these notifications on time, as the email address they provided, to which EUROPHYT forwarded the information, was no longer in use,” the study said.
As a result, NPQS failed to take the required corrective actions and the interceptions grew to a level requiring the EU to launch a full-scale audit of the NPQS in 2015.
“It was only following the audit that information regarding export procedures to the EU was clarified and corrective measures taken,” Verité Research said.
“The delay caused by the NPQS in its failure to update their contact details accurately caused fruit and vegetable exporters – over 80% of whom operate on small and medium scales i.e. an annual export turnover of Rs60 million or less - to incur significant losses.”
(COLOMBO, June 15, 2017)