The WTO released their panel report and decision upon the US Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) requirements for meat products. The US implemented these measures back in 2008, but Canada and Mexico believed they were in violation. Analyzing the system because of Canadian and Mexican complaints, the WTO has decided that the COOL measure violates the TBT and the GATT 1994.
In regards to Canada’s complaint, the WTO found that the COOL measure “particularly in regard to the muscle cut meat labels, violates Article 2.1 [of the TBT Agreement] because it affords imported livestock treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic livestock” as well as “the COOL measure violates Article 2.2 [of the TBT Agreement] because it does not fulfil the objective of providing consumer information on origin with respect to meat products.”
In accordance with the findings of the violation, the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body is requesting the US to change inconsistent measures to conform to the requirements of the TBT Agreement.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada were happy to hear the WTO’s decision as the US’s COOL measure forced a burden upon the Canadian farming and livestock industry.
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“Today’s WTO decision is good news for workers and families in Canada’s world-class livestock industry, and further proof that our government’s commitment to defending Canadian interests in every sector of our economy gets results,” said Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. “This decision recognizes the integrated nature of the North American supply chain in this vitally important industry. Removing onerous labelling measures and unfair, unnecessary costs will improve competitiveness, boost growth and help strengthen the prosperity of Canadian and American producers alike.”
Additionally, this decision will benefit Canadian farms, their families, the livestock industry and the economy.
“Our government has always stood shoulder to shoulder with our cattle and hog producers against any unfair treatment, such as country-of-origin labelling, and today marks a clear win for our industry,” said Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture. “This day has been a long time coming but, by working closely with our cattlemen and pork producers, we have paved the way for a stronger and more profitable livestock industry.”