U.S., Japan strengthen organic produce trade
Starting Jan. 1, the United States and Japan said organic products certified in Japan or the United States may be sold as “organic” in either country.
“This partnership between two significant organic markets will streamline U.S. farmers' and processors' access to the growing Japanese organic market, benefiting the rapidly growing organic industry and supporting job creation and business growth on a global scale,” the U.S. Agriculture Department said.
"(The) agreement will streamline access to the growing Japanese organic market for U.S. farmers and processors and eliminate significant barriers for small and medium organic producers, benefiting America's thriving organic industry," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement.
The organics sector in the United States and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined, and increasing each year, USDA said.
Formal letters creating the partnership were finalized on Sept. 26 in Baltimore. The announcement took place at Natural Products Expo East, one of the largest trade shows for organic products in the United States.
“Without an equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell products in either country had to obtain separate certifications to meet each country's organic standards. This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork. Similar to previous U.S. equivalency arrangements with Canada and the European Union, this trade partnership with Japan eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic producers,” USDA explained.
U.S. and Japanese officials conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their programs' regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.
Both parties individually determined that their programs were "equivalent" with no restrictions for organic plant and plant products. “This means that—for the first time—certified organic farmers and businesses in the U.S. don't have to prove that they didn't use a specific substance or production method to gain access to the Japanese organic market,” USDA said.
The United States and Japan will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other's programs periodically to verify that the terms of the partnership are being met, the department added.
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