The WTO upheld a complaint by Canada and Mexico about U.S. laws that require retailers to label meat with the country where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Canada and Mexico charged that the law was discriminatory against imported meats.
The Canadian government issued a statement saying: “The United States has used and exhausted all possible means to avoid their international obligations, damaging our highly integrated North American supply chain, hurting producers and processors on both sides of the border.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting today that Republicans, who have a majority in Congress, have indicated they will act to repeal the laws as early as this week, even though consumer groups and Democrats contend the labeling gives essential information for shoppers.
“It is more important now than ever to act quickly to avoid a protracted trade war with our two largest trade partners,” Michael Conaway, the Republican chair of the House agriculture committee, said in a letter published on the website for the congressional newspaper Roll Call. Conaway calls the COOL law nothing more than a “failed government experiment,” adding, “It should be repealed.”
Canadian beef and pork operations are saying the labeling has added to expenses, amounting to more than $1.0 billion a year, and cut livestock exports, forcing some farmers out of business.
In a joint statement by the Ministries of Canada and Mexico, they stated, “Our governments will be seeking authorization from the WTO to take retaliatory measures against U.S. exports.” Under the WTO rules, the two countries are allowed to swiftly move to impose punitive measures against the U.S. These measures will likely involve imposing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. food products, including wine, chocolate, cereal, furniture, mattresses, fruit and juice.