US Appeals WTO Panel Reports in US-COOL Disputes

GLOBAL - The US is to appeal against the decision of the World Trade Organization over the decision on country of origin labelling.
calendar icon 2 December 2014
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The WTO ruled against the US in October backing Canada, Mexico and other states in their case maintaining that the US COOL regulations created an unfair market.

The US has filed a Notice of Appeal in “US – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements (Article 21.5 – Canada and Mexico)”.

The WTO said that parties to a dispute can appeal a panel's ruling. Appeals have to be based on points of law, such as legal interpretation — they cannot re-open factual findings made by the panel.

Each appeal is heard by three members of a permanent seven-member Appellate Body comprising persons of recognised authority and unaffiliated with any government.

However, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has hit out at the US over the appeal.

The CCA said it is disappointed that the US appealed the World Trade Organization (WTO) Compliance Panel ruling of 20 October, which found that the U.S. has failed to bring its Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) program into compliance with its WTO obligations.

While the appeal was expected, it is the US’s final procedural option before Canada can exercise its right to retaliate, and the CCA remains focused on eliminating the unfair discrimination on US imports of cattle (and hogs).

CCA President Dave Solverson said today’s move by the US just means a little longer wait for the US mandatory COOL battle to be over.

“When the WTO Compliance Panel released its decision on 20 October, it was the third time the WTO has found the U.S. has failed to meet its international trade obligations,” Mr Solverson said.

“Moreover, the compliance panel report made it crystal clear that it is the US COOL legislation that is causing discrimination against imports of live cattle and hogs in the U.S. marketplace. This is a stall tactic by the US for sure, but one that can only end with the US making an appropriate resolution to COOL that is acceptable to Canada and Mexico in order to avoid retaliation.”

At this stage, the CCA is interested in the right fix as opposed to a fast fix, Mr Solverson added.

Canada will be in a position to request WTO authority to retaliate once a decision on this appeal is received, confirming the 20 October compliance panel ruling. This process is expected to take several months with a decision perhaps as early as the spring of 2015.

The impact of COOL on the combined Canadian cattle and hog sectors was estimated in 2012 to be about $1.1 billion per year; however, the impact has increased since the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) amended the regulation in 2013.

The CCA will continue to work with the Government of Canada on the COOL file until it is fully resolved, including preparing to impose tariffs on US exports selected from the list of targeted commodities, including beef that was released in June 2013.

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