Canada launches WTO action over US COOL

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Canada objects to US COOL laws
Canada objects to US COOL laws

Related tags: International trade, World trade organization, Livestock

Canada’s meat industry has welcomed the government’s decision to launch World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute proceedings against US country-of-origin labelling (COOL).

The Canadian government announced earlier this week that it had requested the establishment of a WTO compliance panel to determine if the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) May 23 COOL amendments brought the US into compliance with its WTO obligations.

“We had hoped to avoid having to again resort to the WTO to resolve this matter. However, despite consistent rulings by the WTO, the US government continues its unfair trade practices, which are severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs,”​ said a joint statement from International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

A WTO compliance panel ruling in Canada’s favour would allow the government to seek retaliatory compensation of approximately $1.1 billion on US commodities that could be targeted for retaliation in relation to the dispute.
The Canadian government has already published the list of commodities being considered for retaliation, although the ministers stressed that “to respect Canada’s WTO obligations, our government will not act on retaliatory measures until the WTO authorises us to do so.”

Step forward

Canadian Pork Council (CPC) chair Jean-Guy Vincent praised the government for taking “another step forward”​ in seeking resolution to COOL, which he said had caused “horrendous” damage to Canada’s livestock industry.

“The CPC has been working closely with the Government of Canada to pursue a WTO compliance panel, which could lead to retaliatory tariffs against US exports when the revised US rule is found to be not compliant with their WTO obligations,”​ he said.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) also gave its full support to the compliance panel request. CCA president Martin Unrau said that Canada’s case was “compelling” and pointed out that the compliance panel was likely to be made up of the members of the WTO panel that originally ruled the US was breaking international trade obligations with COOL.

Both CPC and CCA are members of a coalition of US and Canadian meat and livestock groups, which have launched legal action against the US government in a bid to force it to change COOL.

Related topics: Meat

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