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WTO Rules in COOL Dispute

By Jean-Paul McDonald, Farms.com

According to individuals familiar with the WTO case regarding the U.S’s mandatory country-of-origin-labeling law (COOL), the WTO has ruled in favor of the main opponents – Canada and Mexico. The on-going dispute has pitted Canada and Mexico against the United States over the controversial labeling law that requires meat sold in the U.S to clearly label certain information about the animal, including where it was born, raised and slaughtered. Livestock producers and industry groups in Canada and Mexico argue that the labeling system creates bias with American consumers against imported meat products.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, sources familiar with the WTO ruling said the final ruling “will be in favor of Canada and Mexico”

In 2012, Mexico and Canada won a challenge in the WTO court over the COOL law, which prompted the U.S Department of Agriculture to update labeling requirements in an effort to make the law more compliant with international trade rules. The WTO recently provided all three governments (American, Canadian, and Mexican) with their decision in July, but the information has not been formally made public yet.

Once the final decision is made public, the U.S will have an option to appeal. Should the United States appeal the decision and further delay the conclusion, Canada could potentially begin to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S exports starting in 2015.


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