Reposted from Feedstuffs
Ian Elliott | August 1, 2012 | Feedstuffs
The World Trade Organization has completed its work on the dispute over country of origin labeling (COOL) involving Mexico, Canada and the United States.
The trade organization’s Dispute Settlement Body adopted the final reports of the dispute panel and appeal body, which heard the dispute during its last July meeting.
The WTO’s Appellate Body ruled June 29 that the COOL measure violates the ‘Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement’ by treating imported cattle and hogs less favorably than competing domestic product.
It is now up to the United States to implement the final verdicts. That means American authorities will need to change the COOL rule to meet the objections of its trading partners.
Normally the losing party in any WTO case is given a “reasonable time” to comply with panel rulings. How long is not laid out, however it is often seen as 15 months for compliance.
Canada and Mexico, the two countries which filed the original complaint, have encouraged the U.S. Congress and Obama Administration to act with due haste.
Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said in June, “I think producers will expect buyers on the American side to start to honor this, you know, relatively quickly. The changes required in legislation will take some more time than that. You know, we’re in an election cycle in the U.S.”
Should the United States fail to act, Mexico and Canada can apply punitive sanctions on imports of American goods.
The COOL regulation attempts to tell consumers where the product they are buying originated, and which countries it passed through to get to the grocery counter. The difficulty is dealing with products produced through an international supply chain, and the burden the regulation places on industry.
The U.S. government implemented COOL on September 30, 2008. The following February, United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sent industry a letter requesting compliance with tougher guidelines than those in the final rule. The final rule went into force in March 2009.
After consultations among the three governments failed, Mexico and Canada asked the WTO to establish a panel to hear their complaints. A panel was struck later in 2009. That dispute panel issued its final ruling in 2011.
In March this year the litigants appealed the dispute panel’s finding. The Appellate Body issued the final appeal June 29.