Final Appeal on COOL Goes Against the US- Congress Must Address or the US Faces RetaliationMon, 18 May 2015 14:28:16 CDT
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has once again ruled a U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule for meat non-compliant with international trade obligations, setting in motion the potential for billions in economic retaliation by Canada and Mexico.
Widely expected, the ruling (which is available in full here) came down clearly in favor of Canada and Mexico. For example, the Appelate body stated in the full report on page 89 that "we are not persuaded by the United States that removing the country order flexibility has not altered the recordkeeping burden that was entailed by the original COOL measure.402 Accordingly, we find that the Panel did not err, in paragraphs 7.114- 7.127 of the Panel Reports, in its analysis of the impact of the elimination of the country order flexibility on recordkeeping."
The ruling added a couple of pages later that "the Appellate Body considered that the regulatory distinctions imposed by the original COOL measured amounted to arbitrary and unjustifiable discrimination against imported livestock, such that they could not be said to be applied in an even-handed manner. Accordingly, the AppellateBody concluded that the detrimental impact on imported livestock did not stem exclusively from a legitimate regulatory distinction but, instead, reflected discrimination in violation of Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement."
When portions of the previous ruling were overturned, most all reversals fell in favor of Canada and Mexico. The appellate panel upheld previous rulings that the amended COOL rule did indeed unfairly discriminate against Canadian and Mexican livestock by requiring labels of muscle cuts of meat to state where the meat-producing animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. In fact, the words seen most often in the report are "did not err" when it came to the earlier ruling that found the US out of compliance with WTO trade rules in this case with Canada and Mexico.
Reaction is coming from a variety of livestock industry groups and from several lawmakers as well. The Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Mike Conaway of Texas is strongly for repeal and plans a news conference with other members of Congress and from the livestock industry seeking swift action regarding ending mandatory COOL- while ranking minority member of the House Ag Committee, Collin Peterson, recognizes that Congress must fix the law- is not in favor of repealing COOL altogether.
Reaction from the groups with an interest for or against COOL are being posted on our website as separate stories.
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