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WTO Rules Against U.S. Country of Origin Labeling

November 18, 2011

The World Trade Organization (WTO) today ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in a complaint against the U.S. mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) law, which took effect in 2008. Following the law’s implementation, U.S. imports of Canadian cattle and hogs and Mexican cattle declined substantially.

The complainants had argued that the COOL law is inconsistent with the United States' obligations under several articles of the WTO agreement.

In its findings, the panel noted that the U.S. law violated WTO rules on several fronts and wrote specifically that “The COOL measure, particularly in regard to the muscle cut meat labels, violates Article 2.1 because it affords imported livestock treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic livestock.”

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced today, Nov. 18, 2011, it has ruled in support of complaints by Canada and Mexico that U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) violates global trade rules and unjustly harms agricultural commerce. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall issued the following statement.

“This is a strong ruling from the World Trade Organization that proves COOL was not only a disservice to U.S. cattlemen and women but also contained far-reaching implications for two of the most important trade partners for U.S. agriculture," said Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs. "NCBA strongly advises the United States not to appeal this ruling. Instead, we urge U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work with NCBA and other pro-trade organizations to apply pressure on Congress to bring the United States into WTO compliance across the board. We must act quickly before U.S. farmers and ranchers once again face unnecessary and unfortunate retaliatory tariffs on their products."

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RELATED TOPICS: Beef, Livestock, Pork, Exports

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