Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator, traveled to Baltimore, MD this week to sign a new Equivalence Arrangement for trade in organic foods between the U.S. and Japan. The signing ceremony took place at the All Things Organic trade conference, which was co-hosted by the US Department of Agriculture.
This Arrangement on organic foods between the U.S. and Japan on organics is an important part of the Obama Administration’s trade agenda designed to grow our economy, support job creation, and strengthen the middle class. The organics sector in the United States and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined, and rising every year.
USDA's Anne L. Alonzo, Japan's Director General of Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Hiroyuki Kobayashi, and USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui at the signing
As of January 1, 2014, two of the largest organic producing partners in the world will recognize each other’s similar high quality standards and allow access to each other’s markets. The signing of this arrangement is especially exciting considering that in recent years as many as 96 percent of U.S. organic operations were planning to either maintain or increase employment in the United States.
In the past, organic products traded in both countries had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, which meant a second set of fees, inspections and paperwork. This arrangement eliminates those significant barriers, especially benefiting small and medium sized organic producers.
Over 100 attendees from the U.S. and Japan were on hand to witness the official ceremony exchanging formal letters between the two governments. Ambassador Siddiqui co-signed the Arrangement with Administrator Anne L. Alonzo, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator and Satoshi Kunii, Director General, Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau, Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.