Posted December 8, 2015
The World
Trade Organization (WTO) has authorized Canada and Mexico to place tariffs on
over $1 billion of American-made goods in retaliation for the country of origin
labeling (COOL) law being incompliant with WTO standards, according to an Ag
Web article available here. Feedstuffs also published an
article available here and Agri-Pulse here.
The WTO
has upheld multiple times Canada and Mexico’s claim that the label creates an
unfair advantage to U.S. products.
“As I’ve
said time and time again, whether you support or oppose COOL, the fact is
retaliation is coming,” said Chairman Roberts. “Today, the WTO announced just
how much that retaliation will cost the U.S. economy. With the WTO
announcement, farmers, ranchers and small businesses will soon be smacked with
over $1 billion in tariffs.”
This
announcement is the final step in a WTO dispute that has been ongoing for over
seven years. Despite efforts by the USDA to amend the rule, the WTO has
repeatedly ruled that the U.S. COOL rule discriminates against imported
livestock in violation of our trade agreements, according to Feedstuffs.
The WTO
determined that the COOL measure “increases the record-keeping burden from
imported livestock entailed by the original COOL measure.” Furthermore, the
panel noted that “between 57.7% and 66.7% of beef and between 83.5% and 84.1%
of pork muscle cuts consumed in the U.S. convey no consumer information on
origin despite imposing an upstream recordkeeping burden on producers and
processors that has a detrimental impact on competitive opportunities for
imported livestock.”
Prior to
the decision, Capitol Hill sources told Agri-Pulse that COOL repeal in the
Senate is a likely outcome, but the size of the retaliatory figure would be a
factor. Sources have indicated that a repeal provision may be attached to
either the omnibus spending bill expected to be debated this week or a customs
enforcement bill also expected to be considered before Congress is scheduled to
adjourn for the year next week.
However,
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said NFU, one of the most ardent
supporters of COOL, will “raise hell if any repeal bill or language gets
included that falls short of maintaining the integrity of COOL,” according to Agri-Pulse.
For more
information on Country of Origin Labeling, please visit the National
Agricultural Law Center’s website here.