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Canada threatens retaliation over U.S. labeling regulations

6/11/2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Canada is reacting negatively to the USDA’s recently revised Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule

The country — while stating that it will pursue a fair resolution through the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the next 18-24 months — today demonstrated how it will retaliate if the dispute is not settled peaceably. The Canadian government has published, in its official newspaper, a list of U.S. commodities that face potential bans. 

“We are preparing to launch the next phase of the WTO dispute settlement process on the new U.S. rule, which we had hoped to avoid by the United States living up to its trade obligations,” said a joint statement by Ed Fast, minister of international trade, and Gerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food.

“To respect Canada’s WTO obligations, our government will not act on these retaliatory measures until the WTO authorizes us to do so.”

A little background: The 2008 Farm Bill made mandatory “the obligation to inform consumers at the retail level of the country of origin in respect of covered commodities, including beef and pork.” Canada, alleging these practices amounted to protectionism, requested consultations through the WTO. A panel of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and, later, the organization’s Appellate Body both agreed with Canada. The USDA then revised its COOL requirements to cover only “muscle cuts of beef (including veal), pork, lamb, chicken and goat meat.” It’s that revision that Canada is reacting to now.      

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