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Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, New Delhi 110003, India


This paper discusses how India and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries can increase their trade in organic food products. With rise in demand for organic food products globally, India and select ASEAN member countries have become key producers and exporters of organic food products. Trade in organic food products is governed by regulations, standards, certification and accreditation procedures, which enables differentiation of organic products from conventional products. Organic standards ensure premium price for the farmers and producers, while consumers are assured of authenticity of the product. Standards can act as a barrier to trade as regulations governing organic food products can vary across countries. Some countries are also in process of developing regulations. This paper discusses the role of different multilateral agencies in designing standards and how countries can address issues of difference in standards by signing unilateral and bilateral equivalence arrangements, trade agreements and harmonizing their standards within regional groups. It also discusses how India and ASEAN countries can align their domestic regulations in line with the global best practices so that they can sign equivalence arrangements to enhance their exports. The paper concludes that measures such as coming up with a comprehensive definition of “organic”, having a uniform standard for organic products encompassing domestic market and trade, having a single nodal agency for both domestic market and exports, developing organic clusters and reducing the cost of third-party certification will help enhance trade in India and ASEAN, and enable these countries to access third country markets.


ASEAN, equivalence arrangement, India, organic food product, trade, agriculture.

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