March 11, 2013

 

Canada may retaliate on US' new, restrictive meat-labelling rules

 

 

In case the US brings in a new, more restrictive trade rule on how beef and pork product exports are labelled, the Canadian government is warning Washington that it may retaliate.

 

The USDA proposal announced on Friday (Mar 8) calls for foreign producers to list on the package of meat products where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, as well as other packaging restrictions.

 

"The proposed changes will increase the discrimination against exports of cattle and hogs from Canada and increase damages to Canadian industry," Canada's Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a news release from Ottawa.

 

The US said the new rule would help it comply with a World Trade Organisation decision last year that found its country-of-origin labelling regulation discriminated against Canada and Mexico.

 

The Canadian government has said one year after that regulation was imposed by Washington in 2008, shipments of Canadian cattle into the US dropped by half and exports of slaughter hogs declined by 58%.

 

Ritz called the new proposed rule "extremely" disappointing and said it would make the discrimination worse, hurting Canadian producers and the meat Industry even more badly. He said Ottawa will respond if the US does not back off, but did not say how.

 

"Our government will consider all options, including retaliatory measures, should the US not achieve compliance by May 23, 2013, as mandated by the WTO."

 

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the Canadian Pork Council issued statements on Friday saying they share Ottawa's concerns. The pork council estimates the US government's current meat-labelling rule has already cost Canada about US$1 billion per year in reduced beef and cattle exports.

 

"The proposed rule is supposed to remove discrimination found by the WTO after a lengthy expensive challenge by Canada," the council said in a release.

 

The USDA said its country-of-origin rule is designed to help consumers make informed decisions about the food products they buy.

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