U.S-Taiwan Organic Equivalence Arrangement Resolved Differences in Standards and Conformity Assessment Systems


On May 30, 2020, the United States (U.S.) established an organic equivalence arrangement with Taiwan. Organic equivalence is when one country recognizes another’s organic program as being equivalent. The U.S.-Taiwan equivalence allows U.S. and Taiwan organic products certified to the USDA or Taiwan organic standards to be labeled and sold as organic in both countries, as long as the products meet the terms of the arrangement.

This document summarizes the differences that the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) identified between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Taiwan Agriculture and Food Agency’s (AFA) organic standards and conformity assessment systems. AMS identified these differences through a document review of Taiwan’s organic program. The differences were further refined or resolved during on-site audits that the U.S. and Taiwan conducted to observe each other’s organic programs. To establish equivalence between the U.S. and Taiwan organic programs, the two countries resolved any differences through the adoption of critical variances (exclusions), by making changes to the U.S. or Taiwan organic programs, or through the exchange of information that clarified program requirements and demonstrated equivalence.

Critical Variances

The differences below could not be resolved through changes to the Taiwan or U.S. organic programs, policy clarifications, or on-site observation of Taiwan and U.S. organic program implementation. These differences were resolved by excluding them from the equivalence arrangement. This means that the impacted products are not treated as equivalent and must meet the importing country’s requirements.

  • Transition crops and “made with organic…” products: Excluded from the arrangement.
  • Livestock health care (antibiotics): Organic livestock products or any livestock products used as ingredients (e.g., eggs, milk, meat) in any products to be sold in the United States must be derived from animals not treated with antibiotics.
  • Livestock materials (vitamins/minerals): Fortified organic milk (milk with added vitamins and minerals) products to be sold in Taiwan must use the term “fortified milk” on labels and not be labeled as “fresh milk.”
  • Labeling (general): Products traded under the equivalence must meet the labeling requirements of the importing country.

Resolved Through Changes to Taiwan or U.S. Organic Programs

The following differences were resolved through changes to either the U.S. or Taiwan organic regulations, policies, or procedures. These changes brought the Taiwan and U.S. organic programs into alignment, resolving the difference.

  • Residue testing: Taiwan revised its approach to testing imports and procedures for handling positive results in NOP products.
  • Oversight and compliance (revoked operations): Taiwan revised its regulations to prohibit revoked operations from re-applying for certification for at least one year.
  • Production (seeds and seedlings): Taiwan updated its regulations to align with NOP requirements.
  • Organic seal: Taiwan revised its organic seal to add English text.
  • Substances (handling): Taiwan revised its regulations to add requirements for the 5% of nonorganic/nonagricultural ingredients in “organic” products.
  • Origin of Livestock, Livestock Feed, Land Conversion: Taiwan and the U.S. agreed that these differences will not impact trade.

Resolved Through Clarification of U.S. or Taiwan Requirements

These differences were initially identified during document reviews of the U.S. and Taiwan organic programs. During equivalence discussions and on-site audits, both countries provided clarification about their requirements in each area and ultimately determined they were equivalent.

  • Certification scopes
  • Grower group certification
  • General certification requirements: Inspection exit interviews, validity of organic certificates, notification to certifier of drift or prohibited substance application
  • General accreditation requirements: Certifier personnel performance evaluation, mediation, required residue testing, management of impartiality
  • Organic certificates: Required information
  • Oversight and compliance: Inspector field evaluations, auditor organic training requirements
  • Recordkeeping
  • Materials review
  • Substances – compost
  • Livestock living conditions/slaughter
  • Livestock management: Embryo transfer, weaning requirements

For more information on the U.S.-Taiwan organic equivalence arrangement, visit: International Trade Policies: Taiwan | Agricultural Marketing Service.