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WTO Hears US Appeal in Country of Origin Labelling Dispute

19 February 2015, at 10:35am

US and CANADA - A World Trade Organization appeal panel is now hearing the final US appeal of rulings that US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling violates American trading obligations, writes Bruce Cochrane.

In November the United States announced its intention to appeal the latest ruling that US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling violates US international trading agreements, and the World Trade Organization is hearing that appeal this week.

Manitoba Pork general manager Andrew Dickson, who is in Geneva for the appeal, says this case is precedent setting.

Andrew Dickson-Manitoba Pork:

Many countries are looking to protect their home markets.

Using regulations to do that has been a bug bearer of the advocates for free trade.

We all know as producers, that free trade is good for farming.

It encourages markets to open up, it brings greater returns to producers and lets countries play to their greater strengths.

Canada in this particular case, is good at producing beef and pork and we want to be able to access those markets for the benefit of our producers.

The Country of Origin Labelling case will lay out the ground rules or set jurisdictional precedents for how trade disputes on regulatory changes that are being made from time to time.

It's very key that we win on this case because it'll have long term implications for other measures that other countries might be thinking of trying to put into place to protect their producers from competition from countries like Canada.

The appeal panel is expected to report its ruling in Late April or early May and if the US loses, Canada and Mexico will be in a position to begin the process of introducing retaliatory tariffs on US imports.

Mr Dickson says that process will take some time, which will hopefully give the US an opportunity to resolve the issue before retaliatory tariffs come into effect.

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