GLOBAL - The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has reached a decision on the amount that Canada and Mexico are allowed to claim from the US in retaliatory tariffs, due to Country of Origin Labelling (COOL).
The dispute dates back for years, but the WTO decided this year that mandatory COOL violated international trade rules, because it disadvantaged companies importing meat and livestock into the US.
Now the WTO has said that Canada can suspend tariff concessions and other trade obligations to the US to the value of CA $1,054.729 million, whilst Mexico can do so to the value of US $227.758 million. The two countries must ask the WTO again for approval before the new tariffs can be activated, however.
The US Congress in 2008 during its debate of the Farm Bill made COOL mandatory for beef, pork and lamb products, requiring meat be labelled with the country from where the animal was born/hatched, raised and harvested. During conference committee negotiations, chicken was incorporated into the legislation voluntarily.
“I am keenly aware that chicken and fowl could be at the top of the list for retaliation by Canada and Mexico, and that this labelling law continues to leave the door open for retaliatory action by other countries, too,” said National Chicken Council (NCC) President Mike Brown in response to the announcement by the WTO.
“NCC supports legislative action that will bring US laws and regulations pertaining to meat and poultry into full compliance with our international trade obligations. NCC urges Congress to repeal the labelling provision for chicken, beef and pork now.”
USDA has repeatedly tried to address the WTO’s concerns about the COOL statute, but the COOL regulations remain unacceptable and illegal according to the WTO.
The ruling cannot be appealed further and is expected to get formal approval by the WTO’s dispute settlement body later this month, according to reports. Without legislation to repeal COOL, retaliation will begin in mid-December, the NCC said.
The US House of Representatives in June voted by a 300-131 margin to repeal the meat labeling provisions, but the Senate has yet to act on the matter.
Canada and Mexico are two of the US chicken industry’s largest trading partners and COOL continues to jeopardise those relationships, the NCC said. The US exported $1.23 billion worth of chicken meat to Canada and Mexico in 2014, representing 27.3 per cent of the value of all of our exports for the year.
“Losing access to two of our key export markets would be a devastating blow to U.S. chicken farmers and producers,” Mr Brown concluded.ThePoultrySite News Desk