SWITZERLAND, Geneva. The international dispute over US country of origin labelling (COOL) has gone to arbitration. The United States asked the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body to assess how much Canada can claim through retaliatory tariffs.
Officials representing the US before the DSB argued that the tariffs were in excess of any damages incurred by Canada’s livestock industry because of COOL. Canada plans to impose more than $3 bn. in retaliatory measures against US exports to Canada, while Mexico is seeking more than $653 mill. in compensatory tariffs.
The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF), an organisation that has supported COOL, applauded the US Trade Representative for pursuing arbitration. In a statement the organisation said the USTR is defending the United States’ sovereign right to notify consumers as to the true origins of their meat products.
Canada expressed disappointment at the move, saying the US is attempting to prolong the WTO process. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a statement. “The US is out of options and retaliation cannot be avoided by drawing out this process.”
On 11 June, the US House of Representatives voted 300-131 in favour of a bill repealing COOL requirements for muscle cuts of red meat, poultry, ground beef and ground pork.