July 1, 2014
Organic processed products certified in the United States or the Republic of Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country, the U.S. government announced July 1
This agreement will allow organic farmers, processors and businesses in the two countries greater access to each other’s growing market for organic products. The arrangement between the two nations, announced in news releases from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), took effect on July 1.
“America’s organic farmers and businesses have a reason to celebrate,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. The deal serves as another foundation for future organic trade arrangements between the United States and other partners, he said.
“This is another chapter in the success story of organic agriculture,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who noted that South Korea is a growing, lucrative market for organic products.
Without this equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell organic processed products in either country would have to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards. This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections and paperwork, as well as delays for farmers and businesses trying to export.
This agreement is South Korea’s first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner and serves as an example of how closely the United States is working with the country to address emerging issues and strengthen the trade relationship, the U.S. agencies said. Similar to previous U.S. equivalency arrangements with Canada, the European Union and Japan, the arrangement with South Korea eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic businesses.
Leading up to this announcement, U.S. and South Korean technical experts conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their programs’ regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements and labeling practices were compatible.
The arrangement covers organic condiments, cereal, baby food, frozen meals, milk and other processed products. According to U.S. industry estimates, exports of organic processed products from the United States are valued at approximately $35 million annually.
“The United States and Korea are committed to ensuring that all traded organic processed products meet the terms of the arrangement, retaining their organic integrity from farm to market,” the U.S. agencies said. Korea’s National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service and USDA’s National Organic Program, which oversee organic products in their respective countries, will both have oversight.
The United States and South Korea will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other’s programs periodically to ensure that the terms of the arrangement are being met, the agencies said.
Additional details on the arrangement can be found on the USDA website.