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International Trade Update: Japan and Korea

by Sarah Watters |

U.S.–Japan Equivalency Agreement Effective January 1, 2014

The U.S.–Japan Equivalency Agreement is now effective! Organic products certified in either the United States or Japan may now be sold as organic in either market.

With the equivalency agreement, restrictions on humic acid and lignin sulfonate no longer apply for products shipped to Japan, and CCOF no longer asks for documentation regarding the use of these materials. CCOF has also removed anyone not directly exporting to Japan from our GMA Japan Export program. Only operations directly exporting to Japan need to be enrolled in our GMA Japan Export program.

In addition to the equivalency, there is also a new option for applying the JAS seal, which is required on all organic plant and plant-based products sold in Japan. The JAS Seal Consignment Contract allows a U.S. exporter to apply the JAS seal directly to their NOP-certified products in the United States. By signing the JAS Seal Consignment Contract with a JAS certified importer, the U.S. exporter agrees to identify a responsible employee for the process, undergo some minor training, and maintain records of the number of seals applied for each shipment. For further details about the JAS Seal Consignment Contract process visit our Japan webpage.

Our export department is available to help facilitate a JAS Seal Consignment Contract and offer additional information on the agreement. Please contact with any questions.

Korean Import Restrictions Extended to July 1, 2014

Korean officials announced in a January 2014 press release that the Korean import restrictions are extended for another six months. This “education period” will allow for the sale of U.S. organic product in Korea until July 1, 2014.

The education period is a time of non-enforcement of the new Korean standard. Korean distributors are allowed to sell U.S. organic product, but may receive warnings that the product will no longer be allowed after the education period ends.

Korean officials also released a list of exempted ingredients, which can be exported to Korea without requiring certification to the standard. These ingredients are processed products that are not currently available in Korea. If you export one of the ingredients on this list as bulk product not meant for direct to consumer sale, you will not be affected by the Korean standard.

CCOF is also investigating certification options for the Korean standard. It appears that, unless the ingredients in the final product are on the list of exempted ingredients, the entire supply chain will require recertification. CCOF has developed a relationship with a certifier that can provide efficient Korean certification if needed.

During the education period, the NOP and other agencies are working diligently on an equivalency arrangement with Korea, with the support and encouragement of CCOF.

If you have interest in Korean certification, or have any questions, contact