WTO Rules Against U.S. COOL for Fourth and Final Time — Canada Seeking Permission to Retaliate

The World Trade Organization has once again sided with Canada and Mexico, as the WTO Appellate Body published a fourth and final ruling on U.S. country of origin labeling rules today.

The appeal panel decision affirmed earlier rulings saying COOL illegally discriminates against foreign livestock (read the report and findings here).

“The United States has used and exhausted all possible means to avoid its international obligations, damaging our highly integrated North American supply chain and hurting producers and processors on both sides of the border,” said Canada’s Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a statement on Monday morning. “Once again, we call on the United States to cease this harmful policy and repeal COOL’s provisions against beef and pork, removing this unnecessary trade barrier.”

The ministers also confirmed that Canada will now request permission from the WTO to implement retaliatory tariffs on American imports.

“In light of the final ruling, and due to the fact that the United States has continued to discriminate against Canadian livestock products, Canada will be seeking authority from the WTO to use retaliatory measures on U.S. agricultural and non-agricultural products,” said the ministers. “In June 2013, Canada released a proposed list of targeted U.S. imports, and we are now preparing our request to retaliate.”

Following the ruling, Dave Solverson, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said “today is an incredibly important and historic day for Canada’s cattle industry,” while calling on Congress to repeal the labeling legislation.

In Washington, meanwhile, the chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee noted the decision was “fully expected.”

“As retaliation by Canada and Mexico becomes a reality, it is more important now than ever to act quickly to avoid a protracted trade war with our two largest trade partners,” said Michael Conoway. “I have asked my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee to weigh in on resolving this issue once and for all during a business meeting this Wednesday in a targeted effort to remove ongoing uncertainty and to provide stability.”

More to come.

How did the dispute over COOL get to this point? Check out this timeline on the meat labeling legislation.

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