Letters exchanged: United Kingdom-Canada Organic Equivalence Arrangement (UKCOEA)
Letter to the Director Agri-Food Chain, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Defra)
1400 Merivale Road
Tower 2, 6th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0Y9
December 21, 2020
Director Agri-Food Chain
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Defra)
Dear Ms. Ismail:
Subject: Exchange of letters on the Recognition of Equivalency of organic products between the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has reviewed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) system for organic production, labelling and control based on the European Union (EU) Organic Regulations; Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulations (EC) Nos 889/2008 and 1235/2008.
Pursuant to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act and the Safe Food For Canadians Act, CFIA has determined that agricultural products of plant origin, including fungi and processed foods of plant origin as well as livestock products and processed food product containing livestock ingredients which are grown or produced in the UK or whose final processing and packaging occurs within the UK and are:
- certified by an UK approved control body in conformity with the organic regulations applicable in the UK; and
- accompanied by an export certificate which is issued by an UK approved control body
are deemed equivalent to those products that have been produced and processed in accordance with part 13 of Safe Food for Canadians Regulations ((SFCR) 2019); and may be sold, labelled and represented in Canada as organic, including display of the Canada Organic Logo.
This recognition will be effective as of January 1, 2021, under the conditions set forth in Appendix 1.
The requirements outlined in Appendix 2 apply to imported organic products.
The CFIA team, which administers part 13 of the SFCR, is committed to working with Defra to carry out the terms of this Exchange of Letters.
International Programs Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Appendix 1 - Conditions for granting equivalency
The CFIA and Defra understand that the equivalency decision of the CFIA is subject to the following:
- Defra will notify the CFIA in a timely manner of any;
- changes with respect to UK's competent authority and approved control bodies
- proposed legislation or rulemaking in UK that would modify the UK Organic Requirements
- instances of significant non-compliance with Defra's organic certification program. For purposes of this equivalency determination, "significant" means any non-conformity that materially affects the integrity of the organic product subject to this recognition
- Following advance notice from the CFIA, Defra will permit the CFIA to conduct evaluations (document reviews or on-site visits) to verify how the UK approved control bodies carry out the requirements of UK organic certification program. Defra will cooperate and assist the CFIA, to the extent permitted under its national law, in carrying out such evaluations.
- Defra will submit an annual report to the CFIA that will cover the organic activities for the previous year by March 31 of the current year.
- The CFIA and Defra will participate in discussions or other means they deem appropriate to resolve any issue raised regarding the application of or the activities covered under this exchange of letters such as establishing a Technical Working Group to address and resolve implementation and other issues with the equivalency recognition.
- If the CFIA decides to change its criteria for determining equivalency, it will notify Defra in writing in advance.
- The CFIA and Defra will ensure that, by January 2026, the Technical Working Group will review the functioning of this exchange of letters with a view to proposing any changes, as needed.
Appendix 2 - Import provisions
The CFIA and Defra understand that the following import provisions apply to this exchange of letters:
- UK aquaculture organic products excluding seaweed can be imported and sold in Canada as organic as long as they are certified to the Canadian Organic Standard CAN/CGSNB 32.312 by a CFIA accredited Certification body. These imported organic products will be required to be accompanied by a valid organic certificate issued by a CFIA accredited Certification body
- UK organic product covered under Appendix 1 and imported into Canada will be required to be accompanied by an export organic certificate issued by a Defra approved control body that attests to compliance with the terms of this exchange of letter
Letter to Executive Director, International Programs Directorate, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
Defra, Second Floor,
2 Marsham Street,
T: 03459 335577
Date: Dec.21, 2020
Ms. Lyzette Lamondin
International Programs Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
1400 Merivale Road
Tower 2, 6th Floor
UK – Canada Reciprocal Recognition of Equivalence for Organics
Further to discussions in March 2019, I am writing to outline the arrangements that will apply in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) with regards to the reciprocal recognition between the UK and Canada of their organics systems at the end of the transition period between the UK and European Union (EU) on 31 December 2020.
It is a priority for the UK Government to ensure continuity of the UK-Canada trading relationship at the end of the transition period, providing certainty to individuals and the business community. This letter is to confirm that UK will continue to recognize the Canada Organic Regime (COR) and the organic agricultural products certified to the COR will be accepted in the UK, as set out below.
In its letter dated December 21, 2020 Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that the organics regime of the UK will be recognized as equivalent to the COR and the organic agricultural products certified to the organic regulations applicable in the UK will be accepted by Canada.
The United Kingdom's organics system
The Northern Ireland/ Ireland Protocol to the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU comes into effect at the end of the transition period.
The organics regime that will be applicable in Great Britain following the end of the transition period will be the retained EU Organic Regulations; Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulations (EC) Nos 889/2008 and 1235/2008. These will be retained in the domestic legal framework of Great Britain, with minor amendments to ensure that they are operable, by operation of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 and the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act 2020. This includes Annex III of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008, which lists Canada as a recognised third country.
Pursuant to Annex 2 of the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol, the organic regulations which are applicable in the EU will be directly applicable in Northern Ireland. As such, the COR will continue to be recognised in Northern Ireland to the extent that it is recognised in EU law.
Exports from Canada to Great Britain (GB) will continue to require a Certificate of Inspection (CoI) which will be specific GB CoI that will have to be completed manually.
Exports from Canada to Northern Ireland will continue to adhere to the EU procedures and will continue to require an EU CoI submitted via TRACES.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is committed to working with the CFIA to carry out the terms of this Exchange of Letters.
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