Statement by Ministers Fast and Ritz on U.S. Country of Origin Labelling

May 23, 2013 - The Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Ed Fast, and the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, today issued the following statement on the United States Country of Origin Labelling (COOL):

“Canada is extremely disappointed with the regulatory changes put forward by the United States today with respect to COOL. These changes will not bring the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations. These changes will increase discrimination against Canadian cattle and hogs and increase damages to industry on both sides of the border.

“Canada will consider all options at its disposal, including, if necessary, the use of retaliatory measures.

“We will continue to stand with Canadian cattle and hog producers against these unfair measures and we will not stop until we succeed.”

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332
rudy.husny@international.gc.ca

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Jeff English
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
Minister of Agriculture
613-773-1059

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

Backgrounder - Canada’s Efforts to Support Canadian Producers on U.S. Country of Origin Labelling

May 23, 2013, is the deadline for the United States to comply with the World Trade Organization’s ruling on Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), which determined that the measure discriminated against foreign livestock and was inconsistent with the United States’ WTO trade obligations.

Canada first brought this issue to the WTO in 2008. Since then, the federal ministers of international trade and agriculture have raised Canada’s concerns about COOL with their counterparts in the United States at every possible opportunity. Canadian government officials at all levels have also met with their American counterparts to work toward a resolution.

COOL is a mandatory U.S. measure that applied a burdensome labelling and tracking system throughout the livestock and meat supply chains in the United States. COOL led to the disintegration of the North American supply chain, created unpredictability in the market and imposed additional costs for producers on both sides of the border.

For more information on the World Trade Organization dispute settlement process, please visit WTO Appellate Body issues report on US “country of origin” disputes and Dispute settlement.

Timeline

  • On September 30, 2008, the United States implemented COOL legislation via an interim final rule (interim regulations). The interim final rule was replaced by COOL regulations (final rule), which entered into force on March 16, 2009.
  • On December 1, 2008, Canada requested WTO consultations with the United States.
  • Two sets of consultations were held with the United States on COOL (December 16, 2008 and June 5, 2009); these consultations failed to settle the dispute.
  • On October 7, 2009, Canada requested a WTO panel, and on November 19, 2009, the panel was established.
  • On November 18, 2011, a WTO panel released its final report, which found, among other things, that the U.S. COOL measure discriminates against foreign livestock and is inconsistent with the United States’ WTO trade obligations.
  • On March 23, 2012, the United States filed its appeal against the WTO panel report.
  • On June 29, 2012, the WTO Appellate Body released its report confirming the WTO panel final report finding that the U.S. COOL measure discriminated against foreign livestock and was inconsistent with U.S. WTO trade obligations.
  • On July 23, 2012, the WTO Appellate Body report and the panel report (as modified by the Appellate Body report) were adopted by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body.
  • On December 4, 2012, a WTO-appointed arbitrator decided that a reasonable period of time (RPT) for the United States to bring COOL into conformity with its WTO obligations was 10 months from the date of the adoption of the panel and Appellate Body reports by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (which means that the RPT expires on May 23, 2013).
  • On March 8, 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture issued draft regulations (proposed rules) to modify the labelling provisions for muscle-cut commodities covered under the COOL measure and invited comments by April 11, 2013.
  • On April 10, 2013, Canada provided comments on the proposed rules, indicating that it was not acceptable to Canada.
  • On May 23, 2013, the deadline passes for the United States to bring its COOL measure into compliance with its WTO obligations.