Both the United States and Canada are now working towards organic equivalency with Mexico, with the United States and Mexico forming a Joint US-Mexico Organic Compliance Committee to strengthen monitoring and enforcement controls on organic products traded between the two countries.
Canada currently has organic equivalency arrangements in place with Costa Rica, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.
Canada's Organic Trade Association (COTA) is currently in the process of evaluating an organic equivalency arrangement with Mexico and coordinating the technical comparison of Mexico's organic standards with that of Canada.
COTA said in a recent newsletter that it is seeking feedback on how equivalency with Mexico will impact Canadian operations.
In early December, COTA released the Canadian Organic Market Report 2017 Trends and Opportunities.
The fifth-largest organic market in the world, Canada's total organic market was estimated to be worth CAD5.4 billion dollars in 2017.
There are approximately 3,713 certified organic producers working on 841 thousand hectares of land in Canada, according to government figures. The market share of organic food and beverages sold through mainstream retailers was 2.6 per cent in 2017. Tracked Canadian organic exports were estimated to reach CAD607 million in 2017.
In February 2017, Canada and the European Union formally signed off on a 'Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement' (CETA) after seven years of negotiations to lower tariffs on a range of goods that include farm and food shipments.
Organic equivalency determination allows two differing standards, regulations or procedures to remain as is (in each country) but treats them as if they are the same if they achieve the same results and policy objectives even if through different means.
The USDA and Mexico’s National Service for Animal and Plant Health, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) are evaluating each other’s systems to determine whether an organic equivalency arrangement could be established between the US and Mexico.
In October 2016, the USDA and SENASICA established an agreement requiring import certificates for all organic products traded between the two countries.
In January 2017, USDA said that trade of organic products between the US and Mexico is significant and growing. In 2015, US exports of selected organic products to Mexico totaled more than USD154 million, while US organic imports from Mexico during that same time topped $141 million. Since Harmonized Tariff Schedule Codes do not track many organic products, the actual value of organic trade between the two countries is undoubtedly much higher, USDA said.
Organic products currently exported from Mexico into the US and from the US to Mexico must be certified to the USDA organic regulations. Two dozen USDA-accredited certifiers operate in Mexico, where there are more than 1,600 USDA-certified organic operations within its borders.
Mexico's guidelines and regulations for organic production and marketing were fully implemented in April 2017. These regulations require all organic products sold in Mexico to be certified under the Mexican organic standards or under an organic equivalency arrangement.