CPC: Proposed COOL Rule Will Not Comply to WTO Panel Decision

by 5m Editor
15 April 2013, at 9:55am

CANADA - The Canadian Pork Council submitted comments on the proposed rule to amend Country of Origin Labelling regulations with the USDA on behalf of Canada’s 7000 hog producers. The CPC believes that the rule will not remove discrimination found by the WTO panel but instead, will only serve to make it worse by increasing the level of discrimination against imported livestock.

The Appellate Body was clear that the discrimination caused by COOL stems from the fact that different labels are required for meat from cattle and hogs exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States than for meat from cattle and hogs born or raised in another country. As these labelling requirements are statutory, it is a statutory, not regulatory, change that is needed to mitigate their discriminatory effect.

The proposed regulatory rule will exacerbate the problem for Canadian exporters while reducing the competitiveness of the US meat industry due to the lack of adequate supply to maintain throughput and competitive costs. This will result in a significant loss of American jobs from the closure of livestock processing facilities and will almost certainly raise meat costs to American consumers.

As a direct result of the introduction of the COOL regulations in 2008, Canadian hog farmers suffered massive economic hardship because of the reaction of US food distributors against having to deal with a multitude of different origin labels. Lost exports of live swine since COOL became mandatory in the fall of 2008 are conservatively estimated at $500 million annually, or nearly $2 billion.

Failure by the USA to address the root causes of discrimination against imported livestock found by the WTO panel and confirmed by the Appellate Body, will present Canada with no other choice but to go back to the WTO to argue that the United States still has not come into compliance with last year’s WTO ruling. This carries the very high risk for the United States that Canada (and Mexico) will find themselves in a position to retaliate against US exports.

The CPC would like to acknowledge the strong and unwavering support of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and their officials on this difficult and ongoing trade issue.