line. The U.S. has invited Korea to
come to Washington, D.C. to see firsthand the rigorous regulatory, accreditation and certification systems in
place at USDA.
An issue that adds to the complexity
of the technical talks with Korea is that
organic regulations in Korea fall under
different agencies for fresh produce
and processed products. Thus, each
certification would require an inspector from each of those agencies.
Also, Korea doesn’t currently have provisions for the recognition of foreign
accreditors like the National Organic
Program. All of this adds to the complexity of the negotiations.
There was interest in going forward and there will be another meeting at the
end of May. U.S. trade teams, with assistance from OTA, tried to establish an
equivalency with the EU before, but a lot of things have happened since then.
One is that the European Union has revised its regulations and the authority
for the organic program is now the hands of the European Commission for
the entire EU. Previously it was regulated on a country-by-country basis, which
meant it was virtually impossible to get everybody to the table. Also, the fact
“The barriers are at least known and
efforts are being made to assist people who want
that the U.S. and Canada negotiated equivalency has piqued interest around
the world in having trade equivalence agreements with the U.S. and Canada.
OP: Are there opportunities in China for
OP: What about Mexico and Latin America?
Anderson: The Chinese government
does not have a provision for recognition or equivalence. Several NOP certifiers are working in the country and
the certifier experiences in China are
that it’s fairly complicated because the
state-run farm is frequently certified by
a state-run organization, which has its
inherent conflicts of interest. Many certifiers have been reluctant to enter that
market because of those potential conflicts of interest.
As far as exporting to China, it’s
one of the world’s largest markets with
an emerging economy. Through an internal poll, OTA found that 50 percent
of the respondents thought this was an
important export market that they
would consider pursuing, but only 25
percent thought that it might be an important source of supply in the near future due to food safety issues.
Anderson: Mexico is a very important part of organic production in North
America and we are standing ready, willing and eager to begin negotiations.
However, their regulations have yet to be finalized, so there is not a great deal
to negotiate at this time. Currently, we’re not experiencing many trade barriers
exporting to Mexico. We are exploring if there may be funding available to invite Mexican representatives to the U.S. to see the workings of the NOP, visit
U.S. organic operations and to aid Mexico in anyway in the development of
their organic regulations. Because Canada and the U.S. were engaged in discussions during the development of the Canadian regulations, negotiations were
already well under way when the regulations were implemented.
In addition to Mexico, Chile and Peru have expressed interest in beginning
talks with the U.S. Both Chile and Peru are very important trading partners of
the U.S. and they’re also part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so there is a high
level of interest. We’re approaching negotiations at a bilateral and a multilateral level.
OP: How much opportunity is there for export currently? And how big of a role could
export play in an organic company?
OP: What is the latest on the talks with the
DiMatteo: I think there is a good export market for certain products in certain
countries, and it should be something that is explored by U.S. producers and
brand companies. With the assistance of the U.S. government, the OTA and
these projects we are working on, the barriers are at least known and efforts are
being made to assist people who want to export. The growth may not happen
immediately, but if you look longer term with the possible equivalencies and
other agreements, this is going increase the percentage of your business that
could be directed toward export.
Anderson: OTA members have identified the EU as a critically important
market for export. The EU has requested equivalence negotiations and
our teams have met once already.
Anderson: U.S. organic trade exports are estimated to be $2 billion, which is
slightly less than 10 percent of all U.S. organic sales. It is very important to continue to work on trade agreements and arrangements that expand the export
opportunities for the U.S. organic industry. o
MAY — JUNE 2010