OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 2, 2013) - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast are pleased with the establishment of a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel on U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) on September 25, in Geneva.
"Following through on our commitment to stand up for Canadian livestock producers by pursuing all options available to resolve this dispute, our Government requested and obtained the establishment of a World Trade Organization compliance panel on U.S. Country of Origin Labelling," said Minister Ritz. "Our Government continues to aggressively lobby the U.S. Government to make a legislative change to finally put an end to mandatory Country of Origin Labelling that hurts producers on both sides of the border."
"Our Government understands the importance of global markets to the families that rely on our world-class Canadian livestock producers for their livelihood," said Minister Fast. "That's why we're standing up for producers and processors on both sides of the border by establishing a WTO compliance panel and why we continue to ask the United States to respect its international trade obligations and put an end to mandatory Country of Origin Labelling."
Canada maintains that the U.S. has failed to bring its COOL measure into conformity with its WTO obligations. It believes that the recent amendments to the COOL regulations will further hinder the ability of Canadian cattle and hog producers to freely compete in the U.S.
The purpose of a WTO compliance panel is to determine whether measures found to violate WTO obligations have been brought into conformity with WTO obligations. The panel is composed of all original members of the WTO panel established in 2009 on the same issue, which will accelerate the process.
If Canada prevails in the compliance proceedings, which may include an appeal to the WTO Appellate Body, Canada could seek authorization from the WTO to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports. A list of possible target products was released in a statement issued on June 7, 2013. Canada will continue to consult with stakeholders as it pursues a fair resolution of this issue through the WTO over the next 15 to 18 months. Mexico, the other complainant in the dispute, has also initiated compliance proceedings with the WTO.
The COOL legislation's expanded labelling requirements will result in increased segregation of livestock and increased costs for firms using livestock, or the meat produced from such livestock, that are born or raised outside the U.S. The COOL measure has significantly disrupted the North American supply chain, created unpredictability in the market and imposed additional costs on producers on both sides of the border. Canada continues to lobby all levels of the U.S. Government to make a legislative change in the Farm Bill to put a definitive end to mandatory COOL.