USAID Oceans’ Partners Share Benefits of Traceability Data Exchange for ASEAN Trade

In coordination with the 34th ASEAN Summit held in June, USAID Oceans and its partners led a dialogue on the exchange of catch document and traceability data to advance ASEAN trade amongst participants from governments and the private sector. Photo: USAID Oceans/K.Nitiwarangkul

Digital technologies and innovations play a crucial role in transforming international trade. The ASEAN Single Window is one of the key platforms that reflects this transformation, facilitating trade and economic growth. It integrates National Single Windows (NSW) developed by each ASEAN member state to increase efficiency, compliance and security in data exchange, which can then facilitate trade-related procedures, such as customs clearance and logistics.  

On June 24 -25, USAID Oceans and its partners participated in and supported the 4th ASEAN Single Window Symposium in Bangkok, Thailand in partnership with the ASEAN-USAID Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade, and E-Commerce (IGNITE) project.

The Symposium was held during the 34th ASEAN Summit, and convened participants from governments and private sectors to discuss and evaluate the current status of the ASW, which has been launched in five ASEAN member countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to date. 

At the Symposium, USAID Oceans and USAID IGNITE hosted a session, Exchanging Seafood Traceability Data through the ASEAN Single Window, in which panelists from the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Government of Thailand and the private sector were invited to share their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges in implementing traceability in the fisheries supply chain and how they have experienced that traceability data can advance trade within the ASEAN region and beyond. 

Panelists from the Thailand Department of Fisheries, SEAFDEC, PT Nutrindo and Trinity Roots shared and exchanged their views on how traceability in the fisheries supply chain can be strengthened in support of trade facilitation and economic growth within and beyond the ASEAN region. Photo: USAID Oceans/ K.Nitiwarangkul

Dr. Bundit Chokesanguan, Senior Coordinator at SEAFDEC, presented how the electronic ASEAN Catch Documentation Scheme (eACDS), an electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) system developed by the organization, can help fishers and suppliers, from small to large-scale, retrieve necessary documentation and data, such as a catch certificate, to certify that their products can be sold or exported. He also acknowledged USAID Oceans’ support in implementing and testing the eACDS in ASEAN, including an upcoming pilot with First Mover industry stakeholders in Binh Thanh, Vietnam.

Ms. Passarapa Kaewnern, Food Technologist at the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Division of the Department of Fisheries of Thailand, addressed the progress of the Government of Thailand in improving connectivity between the eCDT systems throughout the supply chain, from catch to export. An interoperable and interconnected system can potentially enable effective, accurate and transparent data exchange for export and import through the ASEAN and National Single Windows.

Ms. Kaewnern also highlighted that the, “stakeholders involved should align and agree on the key data elements that need to be collected in order to build an efficient and integrated system for data exchange. Collaboration between them is crucial.

Panelists from the private sector highlighted important factors and challenges to be considered in the implementation of seafood traceability in order to capture data for regional and international trade.  

Mr. Tedy Harmoko, Plant Manager of PT Nutrindo, a tuna fishing and processing company in Indonesia that exports to international markets such as the United States and Japan, addressed that lack of access to traceability technologies and infrastructure is one of the most significant challenges in establishing traceability, especially for small-scale fishers, noting that, “traceability should be accessible to all in order to establish credibility throughout the supply chain and ensure that products meet the requirements of the export destination countries.”

Mr. Harmoko recognized USAID Oceans’ support to Nutrindo in overcoming such a challenge through the implementation of the Pointrek Vessel Monitoring System for small-scale fishers and suppliers in the program’s learning site in Bitung, North Sulawesi in collaboration with its grantee, Masyarakat dan perikanan Indonesia (MDPI)

Mr. Jirawat Eauchai, Chief Operations Officer of Trinity Roots, a Thailand-based technology provider, further emphasized that building trust for buyers is considered one of the main benefits of traceability for the private sector involved in trade. In achieving so, he proposed that, “traceability technologies also capture human welfare related data, such as number of crew members on board and their working conditions. Such information could guarantee that products are sourced legally and safely in order to enhance fair trade.”  

In closing, Ms. Vélez Srinivasan, Ecosystems Management and Trade Team Lead for the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia, acknowledged the significant progress of  ASEAN in developing the ASW and their NSWs. “Trade facilitation and economic growth are the key drivers of USAID’s efforts to advance traceability.” She also emphasized the commitment of USAID and its programs, including USAID Oceans, to advance documentation and certification processes in support of the national and ASEAN Single Windows and in preventing products from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing sources from entering the supply chain and international trade.