Taiwan and Japan reach agreement on mutual recognition of organic products

Deal will facilitate circulation of organic food without additional certification

Chiou I-jen (left), Mitsuo Ohashi. (AFA photo)

Chiou I-jen (left), Mitsuo Ohashi. (AFA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After reaching a deal on the mutual recognition of organic certifications on Wednesday (Oct. 30), organic products will soon be allowed to circulate between Taiwan and Japan without requiring the certifications issued by each respective country.

Taiwanese and Japanese officials wrapped up their 44th annual round of talks on economic and trade in Tokyo on Wednesday. Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), president of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, and Mitsuo Ohashi, chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, signed four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) during the two-day conference, outlining bilateral cooperation on agriculture, patents, and environmental protection.

Organic products sold overseas are required to go through the certification process of the importing country. The agreement to recognize each other's certification will exempt both countries from these procedures, facilitating the circulation of organic Taiwanese food in Japan and vice-versa.

The agreement will go into effect as soon as early next year after Taiwan’s agricultural agency confirms details regarding export management with its Japanese counterpart, said the Agricultural and Food Agency (AFA) on Wednesday. Japan is the first country to reach such an agreement with the island, which implemented the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act last year.

Taiwan has been in talks with Japan concerning this issue since 2016. In the past three years, Taiwanese and Japanese officials have reviewed their respective organic certification mechanisms and relevant regulations, in addition to sending officials to get a better understanding of how organic food is grown and certified in the other country, before finalizing the deal this year.

AFA official Lai Ming-yang (賴明陽) said that even though Taiwan’s organic products will no longer require extra certification in Japan, raw food that is fumigated before export to Japan in line with food quarantine regulations will not be certified as organic. Thus, tea, rice, flour, and other processed products that do not require fumigation will be at an advantage with the new agreement, added Lai.

Currently, Taiwan recognizes organic certifications from 22 countries, including the U.S., Canada, and 16 European Union member states, but such measures will expire by May 30 next year, as stated by the newly implemented Organic Agriculture Promotion Act. Negotiations of mutually recognized organic certification are now ongoing between Taiwan and the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India, said the AFA.