Talks start on mutual recognition of organic products
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Tuesday 12 June 2012
The European Union and China have agreed to start talks on trade facilitation of organic food products with a view to achieving mutual recognition of their organic labels. The road map – agreed on 12 June between Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos and Chinese Minister for Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Zhi Shuping – sets out the path the sides will have to follow before implementing such an agreement. The first step will be the start of a dialogue at a technical level, which will focus on “promoting mutual understanding, trust and bilateral cooperation” as well as “establishing regular contacts and communication concerning the respective legislations, technical standards and procedures,” the Commission said.
In 2010, the global sales revenue of organic food amounted to US$59 billion and its value could reach up to US$100 billion in the next five years, the European Commission noted, while turnover on the EU organic market is estimated at €18 billion. The EU is currently one of the main importers of organic products from China, and EU exports of said products to China have been significantly increasing in the past years. However, there are no definitive figures on Chinese organic exports, as experts cannot concur on similar numbers. Figures for 2006, for example, range from US$400 million to US$800 million. Conversely, experts seem to agree that exports declined in 2009 due to the economic crisis and to certain food scandals in the country (cadmium rice; milk contamination; toxic bean sprouts).
The EU has already agreed on the mutual recognition and reciprocity of organic food products with the US, Canada, Switzerland and Japan.