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Canada challenges COOL through WTO

The Canadian International Trade Minister Stockwell Day has announced that Canada is filing a World Trade Organization complaint over country-of-origin labelling on Canadian meat products exported to the United States.

Ottawa is initiating a WTO consultation, in objection to provisions that it considers damaging to Canada's agriculture industry, Day stated.

The dispute revolves around the COOL labelling regulations issued in February that require US producers to indicate the country of origin of food including cuts of beef, poultry, lamb, chicken and pork, plus fruits, vegetables and some nuts.

When the regulations were first announced, they were flexible and "seemed to address Canadian concerns" that meat from Canada not be unfairly targeted, Day said. Even so, some US producers have already refused or segregated Canadian-born animals because of the new rules, which is having consequences for Canadian producers.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Canadian pork exports to the US have dropped by more than 40% this year. Cattle exports have fallen by 25% over the same period — and Canadian producers blame country-of-origin labelling.

"It's a clear example of a provision that limits trade. . . . (It) will wind up hurting not just investment, but will also end up hurting jobs on both sides of the border," Day said.

"We want to roll back any attempt or any provision that would exclude Canada from being able to enter into projects in the United States."


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