The Export Promotion Bureau has been assigned the task of issuing health certification with ‘fit for human consumption’ declarations for agricultural products and processed foods to remove complexities in exports of the products.
The commerce ministry on Tuesday issued a standard operating procedure in this connection for exporters and the EPB.
Trade officials said that the EPB would issue the health certification mainly for the products which are not under any other certification bodies and for the products which require ‘fit for human consumption’ declarations for export.
The export promotion body will issue the certificates until the government creates a single health certification authority, they said.
The move came as exporters in the sectors were facing complexities in exporting many products to many countries which seek health certification or ‘fit for human consumption’ declaration, they said.
Earlier the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission recommended the formation of a single body for issuing health certification to the products to boost the products’ exports.
Exporters will get all types of health certificates for their products as per requirements of importing countries from the proposed health certification authority to be formed comprising representatives of relevant entities, a BTTC report said, adding that the country was currently unable to tap the export potentials of agro-processed products due to the absence of such a body as exporters are required to visit several government entities to get the health certification for their products.
Some countries also seek ‘fit for human consumption’ declarations for exports of agro-processed foods.
Now, Square and PRAN Group issue the declarations for their products under some arrangements with embassies of importing countries.
According to the SOP, an exporter will have to provide the updated export registration certificate (ERC) along with application, other required documents, including specification and parameter or codex of importing countries, and a list of sample selected for chemical test to the EPB for health certificates.
The exporter will also have to submit the report of laboratory test conducted at the government-recognised laboratories, including the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, National Food Safety Laboratory and other labs recognised by the Bangladesh Accreditation Board.
The EPB will have the authority to retest the samples selected by a random sampling method to ensure the quality of the products as per the parameters if there are any inconsistencies between the parameters provided by the exporters and the results of laboratory tests.
Exporters will have to preserve the health certificates and other documents for at least three years.
A senior commerce ministry official said that the necessity of issuing health certificates or ‘fit for human consumption’ declarations became urgent as exporters were facing problems to comply with the health requirements specified by different countries in the absence of a single certification body in Bangladesh as the existing certification agencies do not issue the certificates for many diversified products.
For example, exporters have recently faced problems in exporting sesame oil as no government agencies issue the certificates for the product, he said.
There are also some other items like crab, eel and other diversified products for which there are no agencies to issue health certificates or ‘fit for human consumption’ declarations.
Now, Department of Fisheries issues the required certificates for exports of fish and fish products, Department of Livestock Services issues the certificates for meat and meat products and dairy products, Department of Agricultural Extension issues plant health certificate, quarantine certificate and other related certificates.