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UNECE Instruments to reduce risk of Transmission of Pests and Diseases through Bio-trade

New technologies to respond to new challenges: How UN/CEFACT electronic standards help Governments to better control international trade in agriculture and bio-trade to protect their citizens and economies from the spread of pests and zoonoses

In Focus

UNECE, through its Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) develops international standards for electronic information exchange and the implementation of efficient trade control procedures.

In the area of agriculture and wildlife trade governments control the exchange of animals, plants and other agricultural products through the issuance and exchange of licenses, permits and certificates (LPCs). These documents and the underlying controls ensure the legality of trade and aim to prevent illegal trade and the transmission of pests and diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans (zoonosis).

Currently these documents are mainly issued and exchange in paper format. However, information in a physical format is slow and paper documents are very vulnerable to fraudulent use. Criminals find ample opportunities to alter or forge documents, thus preventing efficient implementation of sanitary and phytosanitary controls thus exposing the population of entire countries to risks of new diseases.

These activities are summarized in the eCITES agenda which aims to establish an efficient end-to-end control of CITES listed trade by using modern UN/CEFACT eBusiness standards and technologies.


The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), established a Task Force on Electronic CITES Permit Exchange. The objective of this Task Force is to support ECE and ESCAP interested Management Authorities (MAs) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other relevant national stakeholders of CITES Parties, in initiating and carrying out pilot-based and/or live electronic exchanges of CITES permits among them.

The role of the Task Force is to focus on supportive and facilitating activities, including through providing a forum for discussion, information sharing and mutual technical assistance. Participating MAs shall be responsible for actual arrangement and execution of a pilot-based and/or live electronic exchange of CITES Permit. This Task Force is open to any interested MAs for participation alongside any relevant national stakeholders. All documents of the meetings, including minutes, presentation as well as the official ToR can be found in the Task Force website.


Workshop on CITES electronic Permit Information eXchange (EPIX) for Parties from the UNECE and ESCAP Region (virtual workshop), 8 - 9 April 2020, 09:00 – 12:00 (Geneva time)

Markus Pikart
Economic Cooperation and Trade Division