October 22, 2014


Canada, Mexico mull retaliation against US over meat-labelling row



Canada and Mexico have threatened to retaliate against US exports if it does not repeal its labelling rules that require stores to list the country of origin on meat they sell. On Monday the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the US' labelling regulations did not meet the requirements of international fair trading.


In a statement, Canada and Mexico said they remained "vigilant to ensure the harm generated by the protectionist ... policy is brought to an end and that international trade commitments are respected."


The rules have cost the two countries tariffs estimated at a high of US$2 billion.


The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, pork and beef producers, farmers' cooperatives and corn refiners were one in saying the offending rules should be scrapped, fearing retaliatory moves from the two countries.


"The announcement today [Monday] by the WTO dispute panel on the US Country of Origin Labeling rule brings us all one step closer to facing retaliatory tariffs from two of our largest trading partners," National Cattlemen's Beef Association president Bob McCan acknowledged.


As early as June 2012 the WTO ruled that the US meat labelling programme, known as country-of-origin labeling (COOL), was illegal because it gave less favorable treatment to beef and pork imported from Canada and Mexico than to US meat.


Because of the US rules, there have been fewer Canadian pig and cattle exports since 2009, according to the Canadian government. Already, Canada has published a list of possible US targets in a retaliatory move including wine, chocolate, ketchup and cereal.


The US Trade Representative's Office, meanwhile, said it planned to appeal the WTO ruling within 20 days.