GREENFIELD, Mass. (March 27, 2002)—The organic industry today lauded negotiations between Japan and the United States that have resulted in an equivalency agreement concerning the sale of U.S. plant-based organic products in Japan.
“The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) International Relations Committee’s Task Force on Japan played a vital role in these negotiations by providing information and strategic advice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service,” said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.
Over the past year, OTA representatives worked diligently with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and Japan to set up interim provisions allowing U.S. organic products to continue being sold in Japan. Subsequent discussions centered on developing the equivalency agreement to expedite U.S. organic product trade to Japan after the interim period expires March 31, 2002.
Prompting the negotiations were new Japanese organic regulations that took effect April 1, 2001. The regulations require that all produce, commodities, raw ingredients, and processed plant-based foods labeled as organic in Japan carry the Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS) mark, which required recertification by a Japanese certification agency.
Under the agreement announced March 25, 2002, Japan recognizes the U.S. National Organic Program is equivalent as a system of oversight, enforcement and standards. As a result, organic plant-based food products certified by a USDA-accredited agency can be used by any JAS-certified company, including importers, manufacturers, or distributors. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will be the designated party for issuing export transaction certificates to accredited certification agents who will provide them to client companies exporting products to Japan. The agreement also includes provisions covering JAS labeling requirements.
"This equivalency agreement will give most U.S. traders quick access to the Japanese organic food market,” said Joe Smillie, chair of OTA’s International Relations Committee. “Working with the FAS organic team has been an excellent example of the public and private partnership between the National Organic Program and OTA.”
The recognition agreement, however, does stipulate that alkili-extracted humic acid, lignin sulfonate, and potassium bicarbonate may not be used in raw or processed organic food exported to Japan. These substances are allowed under the U.S. organic standards.
March 27, 2002
Back to Archived Press Releases