Organic Equivalency Arrangements with Other Countries

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Equivalency arrangements are trade agreements made with other countries. Canada only establishes an organic equivalency arrangement with another country after assessing and comparing the two regulatory systems, including the standards, to determine whether the principles and outcomes achieved are consistent.

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 as long as they achieve the same results and policy objectives even if through different means. An import-export arrangement that deems both the foreign country's conformity assessment system, as well as its standards, as being equivalent to requirements of the domestic regulations would be considered an equivalency arrangement. Under an equivalency arrangement an imported product would be certified through the foreign country's conformity assessment system to the foreign standards and to the terms of the equivalency arrangement (respecting the variances where applicable) and would be considered to meet the importing country's requirements.

Process Used to Determine Organic Equivalency

Equivalency is determined by assessing and comparing two regulatory systems, including the standards, to determine whether the principles and outcomes achieved are equivalent. Elements that are assessed include:

  • Regulations;
  • Accreditation Criteria;
  • Certification Criteria;
  • Standards; and
  • Monitoring and Enforcement activities.

Variances are identified and advice and input are sought from industry on the significance of variations found in the respective standards. Each Government takes this input into consideration while determining if the foreign organic regime can be deemed equivalent.

Should either Government identify a critical variance that cannot be resolved, it will become an exception. An import-export arrangement that contains exceptions would partially deem the foreign country's conformity assessment and standards as equivalent to the domestic requirements. If the foreign country's conformity assessment system and its standards are deemed only partially equivalent, then the exceptions would be outlined in the arrangement and the certification would have to meet the requirements of the arrangement.

The process to reach an equivalency arrangement with another country is outlined in the Canada Organic Office Procedure for Equivalency Determination.

The CFIA verifies the effectiveness of the organic equivalency arrangements by conducting peer reviews. The approach followed by the Canada Organic Office (COO) is outlined in the Canada Organic Office Peer Review Procedure.

Imported Organic Products

Organic products imported from countries with whom Canada has established an equivalency arrangement must be certified by a body accredited by that foreign country and recognized by Canada. These products may bear the Canada Organic Logo.

All food sold in Canada, whether domestic or imported, must also comply with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations.

Equivalency arrangements currently in place with Canada

Costa Rica

European Union

Japan

Switzerland

United States

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