Canada welcomes WTO ruling over U.S. Country of Origin Labelling

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd November 2011

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that current U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) measures are inconsistent with the U.S.’s WTO trade obligations.

The WTO had examined complaints by Canada regarding the United States’ current CoOL requirements.

The U.S. Food, Conservation and Energy Act imposes mandatory CoOL for beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat as well as some perishables sold by U.S. retailers.

The WTO ruled that the requirements discriminate against foreign livestock. In particular, the WTO found that Canadian and Mexican products were treated less favourably than U.S. products. It also found that the requirements created unnecessary obstacles for international trade, such as additional costs for processors of Canadian livestock.

The U.S. CoOL legislation was implemented by the U.S. on an interim basis in September 2008 and came officially into force in March 2009.

Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, said that the WTO’s decision will benefit Canada’s livestock industry and economy. He said, “The U.S. measure has forced the livestock industry in Canada and other countries that trade with the U.S. to go through a labelling and tracking system. It has led to disintegration of the North American supply chain, created unpredictability in the market and imposed additional costs on producers on both sides of the border.

“Thirteen WTO country members have joined as third parties in the dispute. The U.S. will now be required to bring its measures into conformity with its WTO obligations. However, if the WTO decision is appealed, it could delay the outcome,” Mr Fast added.