News of Organic Industry

Japan Enters Organic Trade Agreement with US

Officials from Japan and the United States have announced the signing of an organic equivalence arrangement between the two countries. U.S. officials noted the organic equivalence arrangement will re-open the important Japanese consumer market for US organic producers, and will create jobs and opportunity for the US organic food and farming sector.

“This monumental agreement will further create jobs in the already growing US organic sector, spark additional market growth, and be mutually beneficial to producers both in the United States and Japan and to consumers who choose organic products,” said Laura Batcha, Executive Vice President of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

Assessments conducted in Japan and the US leading up to the signing found organic management, accreditation, certification, and enforcement programs are in place in both countries, and conform to each other’s respective programs. The first two-way trade agreement in Asia also marks the first organic equivalency arrangement without organic standards exceptions.

As a result, certified organic products as of Jan. 1, 2014, can move freely between the US and Japan. Under the agreement, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries (MAFF) will recognise the US Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) and the MAFF Organic Program, and will allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA’s NOP standards to be marketed as organic in Japan. Likewise, the U.S. will allow Japanese products produced and certified under the JAS Organic Program to be marketed as organic in the US. Both countries will require that the accredited certifier must be identified on the product label.

OM Comment
At first sight, the global organic products market appears to be getting smaller. The US entered an similar equivalency agreement with Canada in 2009, followed by another agreement with the EU in 2012. Although the US considers the organic standards in the EU, Canada, and Japan as equivalent, the move has not encouraged a single global organic standard. Organic producers Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries still have to get multiple certificates to export to these regions. Cynics could argue that rather then creating a single organic market, these equivalency agreements are opening up the global market for American organic products.

Source: News Release / Organic Monitor

Tags:   organic ,  international organic industry 

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