From FCC Express and the Canadian Press
The federal government is again going to the World Trade Organization to try and get the United States to change its country of origin labelling rules that Canadian cattle and hog producers say is costing them $1 billion a year.
The complaint is just the latest in a long line dating back to 2008 and, although the process is winding down, it could be another year before a final resolution is reached, officials say.
The latest effort by Canada relates to recent changes made by the U.S. federal government to the application of its COOL system as a result of an unfavourable judgment by the WTO last fall.
But Trade Minister Ed Fast says the changes, if anything, made matters worse and threatened to retaliate.
In June, the government issued a list of 38 commodity imports from the U.S. worth $7 billion that could be subject to punitive taxes once it got the go-ahead from the world rule-making body.
In a statement earlier this week, Fast said he was asking the WTO to establish a compliance panel to decide whether the recent changes made by the U.S. met their obligations.
“We believe that the recent amendments to the COOL measure will further hinder the ability of Canadian cattle and hog producers to freely compete in the U.S. market,” the minister says.
“We had hoped to avoid having to again resort to the WTO to resolve this matter. However, despite consistent rulings by the WTO, the U.S. government continues its unfair trade practices, which are severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs.”
The minister was on route to an international trade meeting in Brunei and could not be reached for comment on Monday.
In May, the U.S. government announced new regulations to the labelling system that would track cattle and hogs right from the farm to meat processing and distribution systems. Labels in grocery stores would include such information as “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States” for American meat. Cuts of meat from other countries could carry labels such as “born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”
Canada has long objected to the labelling system on the grounds that it’s costly, burdensome and is leading to the “disintegration” of the North American supply chain.
Mexico, which also objects to the COOL regulations, is expected to follow the Canadian route in seeking a compliance panel.
The process has frustrated exporters from both countries since 2008