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Date Set for US-Canada COOL Hearing

22 January 2014

GLOBAL - The dispute between the US and Canada over the implementation of Country of Origin Labelling is expected to be heard by the World Trade Organisation Disputes Panel next month.

The WTO has set the dates of 18 and 19 February for the hearing in Geneva.

The dispute surrounds the detail of the US mandatory country of origin labelling regulation – COOL – which Canada believes discriminates against Canadian beef cattle and pigs imported into the US.

The dispute, which is supported by Mexico Argentina, Australia, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Brazil, the European Communities, Guatemala and Chinese Taipei centres around provisions in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 as amended by the 2008 Farm Bill and as implemented through an Interim Final Rule of 28 July 2008.

These include the obligation to inform consumers at the retail level of the country of origin in respect of covered commodities, including beef and pork.

The eligibility for a designation of a covered commodity as exclusively having a US origin can only be derived from an animal that was exclusively born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.

This would exclude such a designation in respect of beef or pork derived from livestock that is exported to the United States for feed or immediate slaughter.

Canada alleges that the mandatory COOL provisions appear to be inconsistent with the United States' obligations under the WTO Agreement.

After the WTO found in favour of Canada and four years of negotiations, the US was given until May last year to amend the regulations to make them less discriminatory.

Although the US told the WTO on 23 May 2013, the USDA had issued a final rule that made certain changes to the COOL labelling requirements that had been found to be inconsistent with Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement and the US believed that the final rule had brought it into compliance with the DSB recommendations and rulings, Canada did not agree.

The Canadian negotiators said that the changes were more restrictive and caused further harm.

At that point, Canada initiated disputes proceedings against the US, which are due to be heard next month.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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