Canada names potential items on COOL tariff list

Beef_Roast_wGarnishes_blogPushing back after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its final country of origin labeling (COOL) rules last month, Canada has released a list of U.S. commodities up for potential retaliatory tariffs.

The U.S. and Canada have been sparring over the rule, which also have been the subject of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling, since last summer. The latest rule published by the USDA on May 23 (the same day as the WTO Appellate Body deadline to comply with its ruling) changes how “muscle cut” commodities are labeled. The rule now requires the origin designation to include information not only on where the meat came from (currently often listed as “Product of the U.S.”), but specifically where each step occurred such as where the animal was born, where it was raised and where it was slaughtered. Additionally, the rule also would not allow muscle cuts of different origins to be commingled, according to the USDA.

Friday, Canada released a list of 37 commodities that could face tariffs, including live cattle and swine, cattle and swine meat, cheese, apples, cherries, corn, maple syrup, chocolate, ethyl alcohol and frozen orange juice.

“We are preparing to launch the next phase of the WTO dispute settlement process on the new U.S. rule, which we had hoped to avoid by the United States living up to its trade obligations,” said Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway Ed Fast and Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a statement.

Ritz had discussed the possibility of retaliatory tariffs of $1 billion against U.S. products should the U.S. not comply with the WTO by the May 23 deadline during a trade mission visit in April.

However, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative told Industry Week that the U.S.’s new rule “brought the United States into compliance” with the WTO ruling and, therefore, there should be no retaliatory measures.

COOL was implemented in 2009 and provides information to consumers about where the food they purchase comes from, including meat, vegetables, fruit, fish and shellfish.

Following a complaint filed by Canada and Mexico last summer, the WTO Appellate Body ruled the existing COOL law violated WTO rules on technical barriers to trade. The appellate body found COOL was not allowable because it led to “less favorable treatment” of meat from other countries and more favorable treatment of meat from the U.S.

For more on COOL, check out our coverage here.

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