Under the scope of AETS' ongoing contract with the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAEA) of the European Commission, AETS recently organised a regional workshop on the use of the Trade Control and Expert System, commonly referred to as TRACES. The workshop took place from the 3rd to the 6th of December 2019 in Bangalore, India and was attended by 27 participants from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. The participants, who were all members of their countries’ respective services responsible for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certification, were able to benefit from the course information and ensure that the information was not only understood but applied, presently and in the future.

The main objective of the workshop was to train professionals, mainly competent authority officers responsible for SPS certification, on using TRACES by providing a detailed overview and explanation of the system. TRACES is the European Commission’s multilingual online tool for managing all sanitary requirements related to the EU’s trade of animals, food, feed and plants. This tool, which is already used in over 80 countries worldwide, facilitates the exchange of information between all parties and promotes improved international cooperation between competent authorities amongst themselves, but also with traders. In addition, TRACES allows for traceability of products and risk management, both important contributors to food safety.

The activities focused on the new TRACES platform (TRACES New Technology), import/export certifications with an emphasis on the electronic signature, and on the recent developments in border inspection procedures. The new functions of TRACES were also introduced such as PHYTO, Certificate of Inspection (COI) for organic products and the Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade (FLEGT) timber certifications. As a result, the workshop enabled the participants to improve their use of TRACES and assess the usefulness of developing a regular use of TRACES at a national and/or regional level.