Organic Trade Association's Organic Newsroom: Korean officials announce interim action to keep organic trade open
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2014 Press Releases


Korean officials announce interim action to keep organic trade open

Market will stay open to U.S. organic exports beyond January 1

Contact: Barbara Haumann (; 802-275-3820)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 1, 2013)— Korean officials this week announced measures that will allow the continued stream of commerce for U.S. organic processed products for the next six months.

While announcing the Korean Environment-Friendly Organic Regulations for processed products were to be implemented as scheduled as of Jan. 1, 2014, the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) also outlined a plan for a six-month Education Period to allow business to adapt and transition to the new regulations. This would mean the regulations, although implemented and in place during the Education Period, would not be fully enforced until July 1, 2014.

As a result, the six-month period will allow U.S. and Korean negotiators to conduct rigorous peer review audits and begin equivalency negotiations while facilitating trade through June 30, 2014.

“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. 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,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s Executive Vice President.

OTA applauded the concerted effort by U.S. agency officials and Senators as well as industry members to advocate for keeping the Korean market open to U.S. organic exports.

Several weeks ago, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and 12 of her Senate colleagues sent a letter to Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young urging that Korea keep its market open to products certified organic to the USDA National Organic Program standard, pending the negotiation of an equivalency agreement.

OTA subsequently hosted a fly-in of its members to Washington, D.C., December 16-17 to advocate for continued access to the Korean organic market. During the fly-in, OTA members visited and held meetings with Ambassador Isi Siddiqui at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Darci Vetter.

“The U.S –Korea Trade Agreement lays out a framework to address agriculture trade barriers as they arise. Members of OTA have called on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA to work with Korean officials to find an immediate solution in the spirit of this agreement,” Batcha said, adding that the plan outlined by Korean officials is a first step in the process.

The Organic Trade Association is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for organic trade in the United States, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy