Taiwan and the US on Thursday signed and exchanged letters for a new organic equivalence arrangement that would allow organic products to be sold in either market, the fifth such deal to be reached.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US (TECRO) and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) signed the agreement at the institute’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the AIT said in a press release yesterday.
Effective Saturday last week, the documents allow organic products certified in the US or Taiwan to be sold as organic in either market, it said.
The arrangement protects and increases the access of US organic farmers, ranchers and businesses to Taiwan — the fifth-largest US export market for organic products, it said.
An AIT-TECRO Working Group was also set up following the exchange to provide a forum in which either side can address issues over the implementation of the arrangement, it added.
Since the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act (有機農業促進法) took effect on May 30 last year, five nations have signed such accords with Taiwan, Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) Secretary-General Chen Chi-jung (陳啟榮) said.
Previously, 22 countries — including France, Germany, the Netherlands and 13 other European nations — unilaterally sold their organic products to Taiwan, but did not recognize Taiwan’s organic products, he said.
So that Taiwan can also benefit from the trade of organic products, the act requires countries to reach organic equivalence deals with the government within one year of its implementation, or past recognition deals would be invalidated, he said.
Japan was the first to sign a deal with Taiwan in October last year, followed by New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US, he said.
Although the government has since 2010 urged the EU to reach such an agreement with Taiwan, it has yet to respond, Chen said.
The one-year deadline would not be extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but countries without bilateral agreements could consult AFA-approved firms that offer overseas certification services based on Taiwan’s standards, he added.
Taiwan has nearly 10,000 hectares of organic farms, he said, adding that its main organic exports are tea, rice flour and flour from other grains.
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