WTO Decision on US M-COOL Expected in Summer

GLOBAL - A Canadian-based international trade consultant remains hopeful the dispute over US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (M-COOL) will be resolved without the need to resort to retaliatory tariffs, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 28 February 2014
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Last May, in response to a World Trade Organization order to bring Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling into compliance with its international trading obligations, the United States added new labelling requirements for red meats and banned the mixing of products from different countries prompting Canada and Mexico to return to the WTO to request authority to impose retaliatory tariffs on imported US products.

Last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) panel handling the complaint met in Geneva for an open hearing on the issue.

Peter Clark, with Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates, says Mandatory COOL forces US processors to segregate imported livestock from domestic livestock increasing production costs and since its introduction in 2008 has dramatically impacted cattle and hog exports from Canada while suppressing prices.

Peter Clark - Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates

The Americans have been found inconsistent once.

They didn't comply.

If they are found to be still in breach of the WTO rules which I think is likely because, in effect, they admitted that they hadn't removed the detrimental effects of the previous measure then their choice is to bring it into compliance.

Hopefully the panel will give them more direction on that.

If they don't, well, Minister Ritz has said that Canada can and will retaliate.

We really hope it doesn't come to retaliation because we want to sell livestock.

That's what our interest is.

Mr Clark expects a decision from the panel sometime this summer.

He acknowledges it does not seem to matter who comes out on top in these things, the other side will appeal, so we're looking at a process taking us into the middle of next year.

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