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World Trade Organization rules COOL discriminatory


July 3, 2012
By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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Jul. 3, 2012, Dundun, SK – Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, International Trade Parliamentary Secretary Gerald Keddy and Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and Member of Parliament for Blackstrap Lynne Yelich met with livestock producers and processors in Dundurn, Saskatchewan, to welcome a victory for Canada’s livestock industry. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body confirmed today that the United States Country-of-Origin Labelling (COOL) measure discriminates against Canadian livestock and is inconsistent with the WTO trade obligations of the United States. 

“We are pleased with today’s World Trade Organization appeal decision in favour of our livestock industry,” said Minister Ritz. “Our government has always stood with our cattle and hog producers, in order to create a stronger and more profitable integrated North American livestock industry.”

COOL is a mandatory United States labelling measure that forced the livestock industry in Canada and other countries to implement a burdensome labelling and tracking system. When the United States implemented COOL in 2008, the impact on the Canadian livestock industry was immediately negative. Between 2008 and 2009, exports to the United States of Canadian feeder cattle declined 49 percent and exports of slaughter hogs declined 58 percent. COOL led to the disintegration of the North American supply chain, created unpredictability in the market and imposed additional costs on producers on both sides of the border.

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“We are very pleased with today’s decision,” said Parliamentary Secretary Keddy. “We will continue to engage with our U.S. partners to ensure trade can move more freely and benefit producers and processors on both sides of the border. That is why we are asking the United States to respect its international trade obligations and comply with the outcome of the World Trade Organization findings.”

Canada and the United States enjoy the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world, with two-way trade in goods and services reaching almost $709 billion last year. Agriculture and agri-food bilateral merchandise trade accounted for $43 billion in 2011. Reducing obstacles to trade contributes to mutually beneficial supply chains, making both countries more competitive domestically and internationally. All told, the jobs of over 8 million Americans depend on trade with Canada, and over 2.4 million Canadian jobs depend on exports to the United States.

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