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WTO Rules Against U.S. on COOL

The World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel ruled that the U.S.’s current country of origin labeling (COOL) rule does not meet the U.S.’s international trade obligations and discriminates against Canada and Mexico livestock. The WTO said the current U.S. COOL rule accords imported Canadian and Mexican livestock “treatment less favorable than that accorded to like domestic livestock, in particular because the amended COOL measure increases the original COOL measure’s detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities” of imported Canadian and Mexican livestock.

The concern now is that Canada and Mexico could be allowed to place tariffs on U.S. imports because of the WTO ruling. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) called upon the administration and Congress to resolve this issue. The NPPC says, the “United States must avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico. Retaliatory tariffs on pork would be financially devastating to U.S. pork producers.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says, the “NCBA has maintained that there is no regulatory fix to bring the COOL rule into compliance with our WTO obligations or that will satisfy our top trading partners. We look forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution to this issue, avoiding retaliation against not only beef, but a host of U.S. products.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU), who has been the leading proponent of COOL, however says that changes to COOL could be handled by the USDA to bring the United States into WTO compliance. The NFU says, “Under the guidance of USDA, any changes to COOL to ensure full compliance with today’s decision should be able to be made administratively while maintaining the integrity of COOL labels.”

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