US COOL Discriminates Against Canadian Imports

CANADA - The Canadian Pork Council says, while Canada supports the concept of Country of Origin Labelling, requirements must not discriminate against imported products, Bruce Cochrane writes.
calendar icon 12 October 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Last month a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel held its first round of hearings in Geneva into complaints by Canada and Mexico against US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling and the legal team representing Canada is now preparing for the next round of hearings slated for early December.

Canadian Pork Council executive director Martin Rice stresses Canada does not oppose Country of Origin Labelling and has Country of Origin Labelling requirements of its own.

Martin Rice-Canadian Pork Council

The important thing in terms of any such measures is that they do not cause imports to be given less favorable treatment than the domestic production and so the argument is that the US has implemented Country of Origin Labelling in a way that causes imports to be discriminated against to be in a less favorable position than they were vis a vie domestic production prior to the change.

Now the key concerns here for Canada would be that Country of Origin Labelling imposes costs of segregation and other costs which result in US buyers favoring the domestic product and choosing to no longer deal with imports and that's what we've seen in terms of our sales to the US.

They've plummeted.

I think we're also going to be arguing that the US argument that this is a program that was developed in response to consumer interests is false, that it was really developed in response to industry interests and I would say those are very specific segments of the US industry not the general US industry but specific segments that were looking at Country of Origin Labelling being a means of making imports less welcome in the US market.

Mr Rice says Canada will be arguing the manner in which the US has implemented Country of Origin Labelling is not consistent with its world trade obligations, that the requirements have discriminated against imports and that it's not supported by the existing world trade agreements.

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