Jun 5, 2020
US, Taiwan agreement allows more trade in organic foods

Taiwan organic trade
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Authorities from the U.S. and Taiwan June 4 exchanged letters to formally begin a new organic equivalence agreement.

The arrangement, effective May 30, 2020, allows organic products certified in the United States or Taiwan to be sold as organic in either market, according to a press release from the USDA. The American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. signed and exchanged letters on behalf of the United States and Taiwan to formalize the relationship, according to a press release from the USDA.

The arrangement removes previous barriers for exporters, providing an opportunity for U.S. organic products to gain a greater share in the Taiwanese marketplace. It also allows U.S.-based organic food processors to source Taiwan certified organic ingredients, increasing the range of organic products available to consumers.

“This arrangement protects and increases access for American organic farmers, ranchers, and businesses to the fifth-largest U.S. export market for USDA-certified organic products,” said USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach.

Taiwan’s imports of U.S. organic products have increased sharply in the past few years, with imports totaling over $90 million in 2019, and are forecast to grow by almost 50% over the next five years, according to analysis by the USDA and Organic Trade Association (OTA).

“We are pleased to see the enthusiasm from both the U.S. and Taiwanese governments to reduce trade barriers for organic products and ensure more consumers have access to the wide variety of high-quality organic goods the U.S. can provide,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association.

Alexis Carey, International Trade Manager for the trade association, added, “Taiwan is a solid consumer market for U.S. organic products, and exporters should view this renewed partnership as an opportunity to further expand into a country that is eager for organic. We will be providing resources and trade activities for exporters as they explore potential business opportunities with Taiwan.”

Leading the list of organic product imports by Taiwan are fresh produce, including apples, lettuce, grapes, cauliflower and celery, and processed products. The new arrangement enables an expansion of existing fresh fruit, vegetable and processed food trade, and provides new market access opportunities for organic livestock and other products. The arrangement also allows U.S.-based organic food processors to source Taiwan certified organic ingredients, increasing the range of organic products available to consumers.

The U.S. has had an export trade relationship with Taiwan in which some American-produced organic products could be exported to Taiwan and sold in their marketplace without additional certification. However, exporters still faced significant barriers due to strict Taiwanese import policies on food and agricultural products, including a de facto zero-tolerance policy for traces of any unapproved substances.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Organic Trade Association will be holding a meeting for interested exporters in the coming weeks to discuss details of the new arrangement and answer any questions. The timing has yet to be set at this point.

Earlier this year, Taiwan signed organic equivalence arrangements with Japan and Australia. This latest agreement will allow U.S .organic companies to compete with other regional players in the Taiwanese market. The Organic Trade Association previously conducted a market tour in Taiwan with U.S. certifiers, and completed an export manual detailing the procedure for U.S. exports to Taiwan. The trade association plans to update this export manual with information from the new arrangement over the next year.

The trade association is planning marketing activities in Taiwan in 2021 in light of the new arrangement and to grow the current trade relationship. Likely activities will include a trade mission to Taipei.

Additional details are available on the USDA National Organic Program website: www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/international-trade/Taiwan.

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