Organic processed products certified in the United States or South Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country. This allows American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea's growing market for organic products. The arrangement between the two nations took effect on July 1, 2014.
"Korea is a growing, lucrative market for U.S. organic products, and this arrangement increases demand for American organic products," said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. "This is another chapter in the success story of organic agriculture, which provides more economic opportunities for American producers, more choices for consumers, and more jobs in rural communities across the country."
"America's organic farmers and businesses have a reason to celebrate," said Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative. "We are committed to unlocking new opportunities for Americans and through this work we are delivering for the communities that depend on agricultural products. This deal serves as another foundation for future organic trade arrangements between the United States and other partners."
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, and delays for U.S. farmers and businesses trying to export.
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 South 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. Korea's National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service and the National Organic Program, part of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service—which oversee organic products in their respective countries—will both take on key oversight roles.
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.
This arrangement with South Korea eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic businesses. This is Korea's first organic equivalency arrangement with any trading partner and serves as an example of how closely the United States is working with Korea to address emerging issues and strengthen the trade relationship.