Keeping Cool: An Update on the Canada-US Labelling Dispute

May 28, 2013

Author: Collin May

The deadline for the US to come into compliance with the decisions of a WTO Appellate Body – May 23, 2013 – has come and gone. The Appellate Body upheld an earlier WTO Panel ruling declaring that American country-of-origin-labelling (COOL) on a range of agricutural products breached WTO requirements.

Ultimately, the US responded with new labelling, which many stakeholders, including producers in the United States, have deemed worse than the original.

On May 23, 2013, Canada’s federal Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, and the federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, issued a joint statement reflecting the overall discontent with the new US labelling regime, stating:

Canada is extremely disappointed with the regulatory changes put forward by the United States today with respect to COOL. These changes will not bring the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations. These changes increase discrimination against Canadian cattle and hogs and increase damages to industry on both sides of the border.

Canada will consider all options at its disposal, including, if necessary, the use of retaliatory measures.

We will continue to stand with Canadian cattle and hog producers against these unfair measure and we will not stop until we succeed.

The industry will now await the Canadian governments next move, which could range from the retaliatory measures considered by Ministers Fast and Ritz, to a return to the WTO requesting a review of the American COOL revisions to determine if they comply with the intent of the Panel and Appellate Body rulings.


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