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WTO Slams US ‘COOL’ Meat Import Labeling Rules

WTO Slams US ‘COOL’ Meat Import Labeling Rules

Los Angeles, CA – Canada and Mexico are lauding a finding by the World Trade Organization that the US has failed to bring its Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) meat labeling regulations fully in line with international fair trading rules.

In a joint statement, the governments of Canada and Mexico issued a statement saying, “The WTO has confirmed once again what we have known all along: that the United States’ mandatory COOL requirement for beef and pork is a blatant breach of its international obligations as a member of the WTO.”

The WTO ruling, the statement said, “provides an opportunity for the U.S. to cease this harm and to comply with its international obligations.”

COOL rules require retailers such as grocery stores and meat markets to list the country of origin on the products they sell.

The WTO ruled in June 2012 that the COOL program “unfairly discriminated” against Canadian and Mexican beef and pork imports because it gave “less favorable treatment” to those products than that given US-produced beef and pork in violation of WTO rules.

The US responded, saying that it had met a deadline to change the rules, but Canada and Mexico said it had not done enough.

Unless the revised COOL rules are given the all-clear by the WTO’s Appellate Body, both Mexico and Canada can ask the trade body to let them impose trade sanctions on the US.

US pork producers have urged Congress and the administration to fix the rules and avoid “financially devastating” retaliation, while several other groups including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, farmer cooperatives and corn refiners said the offending sections should be immediately rescinded.

“The WTO dispute panel on the US Country of Origin Labeling rule brings us all one step closer to facing retaliatory tariffs from two of our largest trading partners,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bob McCan.

Canada and Mexico said they “remain extremely disappointed that the United States has continued, to date, to attempt to defend this clearly protectionist policy, which harms trade with the United States’ largest export markets and also hurts domestic US livestock producers and meat processors and retailers.”