U.S. remains in Korean organic market, for now

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U.S. remains in Korean organic market, for now

The U.S. agricultural sector praised South Korea's decision to implement a six-month educational period to ease in its new organic regulations for processed foods.shopper

The Korean Environment-Friendly Organic Regulations took effect on Jan. 1 as a measure to transition the nation into more sustainable agricultural practices. Under the policy, all organic food products sold in the Republic of Korea must be certified by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture.

Prior to the law's implementation, U.S. government officials expressed concern that certification would not be possible by Dec. 31, 2013, effectively cutting U.S. products out of Korea's organic food market.

Thirteen U.S. senators, led by Dianne Feinstein, sent a letter to Korean ambassador Ahn Ho-young in December to express this concern and request revision of the policy.

"Without immediate action, U.S. organic processed food exports to ROK will be halted on January 1, 2014. This will jeopardize a growing trade relationship that benefits both of our nations," the letter said.

"To prevent this unnecessary disruption of trade, we ask that the ROK government allow for current commerce to continue by extending the current grace period until an organic equivalency agreement between our two countries is enacted."

The letter suggested establishment of an agreement for the two nations to recognize each other's organic certification standards.

The result has been a six-month educational period to allow businesses to adapt to the new regulations, meaning the new law will not be fully implemented until July 1.

The deal received praise from Laura Batcha, executive vice president of the Organic Trade Association.

"On behalf of the U.S. organic sector, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) thanks the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for working with Korean officials to make this happen," Batcha said.

"Korea is a critical market for U.S. exports of organic products, and it is vital for the health and growth of the U.S. organic industry that trade not be disrupted to the region."

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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