November 20, 2009


WTO to rule on country-of-origin US food labelling


The World Trade Organization will rule on a challenge brought by Canada and Mexico against US regulations requiring country-of-origin labels for food.


"The panel was established," a trade source said Thursday (November 19), referring to the WTO dispute settlement panel.


While the two cases were brought separately to the WTO, the trade body will make a joint ruling on the issue, the source added.


In its request for arbitration, Canada said it had raised its concerns to Washington about the impact of the labelling on "the Canadian livestock and meat industries."


"We are disappointed that despite these efforts, the United States has persevered with this unnecessary and trade-distorting measure," it said Thursday.


Separately, Mexico said it shared the same concerns as Canada.


The complainants allege "discrimination" over the US policy that requires firms to track and notify customers of the country of origin of meat and other agricultural products at each major stage of production, including at the retail level.


They allege that the policy led to discrimination against their cattle and cattle products, increased costs for exporters, importers and processors, lowered prices of their cattle and restricted trade.


US firms often avoid the regulations by simply not importing cattle and pigs, the Canadian government had alleged.


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