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US and Japan Agreement Frees Up Organic Trade

The U.S Department of Agriculture announced a new deal with Japan that would facilitate the trade of organic products between the two nations. The deal was signed October 3 and goes into effect January 1, 2014. According to the terms of the agreement, certified organic products can be sold between the two signatory nations freely with only one farm certification.

All products will be required to meet the standards for organic certification as specified by both the Japanese Organic Standard and the USA NOP. The crux of the deal is provision that only one certification is required; the previous two-certification rule was infamously slow and unwieldy. The U.S. currently exports considerably more organic goods to Japan than does Japan to the U.S. and the agreement is expected to stimulate one of the fasting growing sectors in the U.S.’s agricultural industry. U.S. organics, including textiles, have reached more than $30 billion a year, growing at a brisk average clip of approximately 4 percent to 5 percent. Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said that the accord should create “good jobs for Americans across the supply chain.”

The trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan comes on the heels of a historic opening of the European Union organic market, which does not extend to the textile sector. According to the executive council of the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development Commission, since the focus of their legislative shift was to bolster the agricultural economy and promote environmentally sustainable procedures, it was unnecessary to include the textile industry.

Many see the new arrangement between the U.S. an Japan as a significant catalyst to commerce across their borders. Steve Crider, sales manager for Army’s Kitchen,a California headquartered organic company, said, “Japan loves American products. But it was a backwater for us because of the restraints.”