Canadian officials have filed a request for authorization from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose more than CA$3 billion (US$2.4 billion) in retaliatory measures against U.S. exports to Canada in response to U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) laws.
Canada’s request is to be considered by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on June 17.
On May 18, the WTO ruled for the fourth time against the U.S. COOL requirements, which have been in place since 2008, reaffirming Canada’s long-standing position that these measures violate the U.S.’s international trade obligations and discriminate against Canadian cattle and hogs. The decision was final and without the possibility of further appeal.
Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, in announcing the plans to seek retaliatory measures, said the damages to the Canadian livestock industry are estimated to be more than $3 billion annually, which is why Canada is asking for authority to impose retaliation measures up to that amount.
"The WTO has ruled that the United States is out of options and out of time," said Ritz. "The only way for the United States to avoid billions in immediate retaliation is to repeal COOL."
If WTO authorization is received, Canada will choose how and when to retaliate. Potential products and commodities that have been identified as targets include but are not limited to pork, beef and corn, a primary feed ingredient.
Mexico also seeking retaliation
Mexico has also been actively seeking an end to COOL, and will also seek retaliatory measures, according to a joint statement released by Ritz, Fast, Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, and Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Enrique Martínez y Martínez, Mexico is seeking authorization for over US$653 million in retaliatory measures.
Repeal of COOL stalled in Congress
COOL has also had its opponents in the United States, including the National Pork Producers Council, the North American Meat Institute, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.
Two days after WTO ruled against the U.S. in the COOL case, Conaway’s committee approved H.R. 2393, a bill that would repeal COOL. Ritz has since traveled to the U.S. to urge government leaders to swiftly repeal COOL, but the bill has not yet advanced past the committee.