Canada releases retaliation list in response to COOL

Jun 14, 2013

Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-Food department released a long list of U.S. ag products that could be affected in the ongoing dispute over U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules. The potential retaliation list has 38 lined items, including cattle, pigs, beef, pork, cheese, pasta, some fruits and vegetables, chocolate and even maple syrup. Several non-ag specific items are also on the list, including jewelry, piping, wooden furniture and mattresses.

The Honourable Ed Fast, minister of international trade and minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Gerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food and minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, last week issued the following statement on COOL:

“Despite consistent rulings by the World Trade Organization [WTO], the U.S. government continues its unfair trade practices, which are severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs.

“Our government is extremely disappointed that the United States continues to uphold this protectionist policy, which the WTO has ruled to be unfair, and we call on the United States to abide by the WTO ruling.

“We are preparing to launch the next phase of the WTO dispute settlement process on the new U.S. rule, which we had hoped to avoid by the United States living up to its trade obligations.

“The Canadian government, with the full support and active engagement of Canadian industry, has fought against this unfair treatment, which is also hurting U.S. industry and consumers.

“When the United States failed to comply by the May 23 deadline, we said we would pursue all options available. Today, we are also releasing a list of U.S. commodities for possible retaliation, to be published as soon as possible in the Canada Gazette, as a way to formally launch the consultation process.

“Our government will continue to consult with stakeholders as we pursue a fair resolution of this issue through the WTO over the next 18 to 24 months. To respect Canada’s WTO obligations, our government will not act on these retaliatory measures until the WTO authorizes us to do so.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George pointed out the flaws in the U.S. COOL plan.

“This list of products brings home the real-world consequences of the USDA’s adherence to MCOOL. Our members have warned both the USDA and members of Congress that should this program continue, there will be a true cost to not only cattle and pork producers but to many other segments of the U.S. economy as well. This is too high a price to pay for a program that has proven it has no value,” George said.

“Cattlemen and women have long known MCOOL not only violates our international trade obligations, but also that it provides no value to the consumer. It is a failed experiment in boosting beef demand and a tremendously successful experiment in creating a trade barrier,” George said. “NC- BA does not oppose voluntary country of origin labeling, but it is a marketing tool not a food safety program. And as a marketing tool, it needs to be run by beef producers and processors, not codified into law or administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. MCOOL is not market or consumer driven and it does not fit within our international trading obligations.” — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor