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COOL said to violate trade obligations

The American Meat Institute (AMI) has told the Office of the US trade representative that mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) violates the United States international trade obligations for many reasons and that the US must honour these obligations.

The comments were provided in response to an early December Federal Register Notice. Canada and Mexico in late 2009 filed a case against the United States with the World Trade Organization (WTO), a move that came as no surprise given those countries' outspoken opposition to the labeling law when it was under consideration by Congress.


High priority
In comments, AMI senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel, Mark Dopp, said that equitable enforcement of international trade rules is a high priority for everyone and that all too often, market access for US meat products has been threatened or cut off with little or no legitimate justification.


“American challenges to these actions have been based upon the rights provided under international trade agreements. These challenges will continue, as demonstrated by a recent limitation to an important market for beef. Critical to the United States' ability to enforce successfully WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) obligations is consistency in US behaviour and actions,” Dopp said.


Undermined credibility
“In that regard, the United States' credibility is undermined when US legislation violates America's commitments pursuant to those international agreements. In the instant case, the US COOL requirements, as provided for in the 2002 Farm Bill (and modified in the 2008 Farm Bill) and as implemented through regulations that became effective March 16, 2009, are not consistent with US obligations under both WTO and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and NAFTA."


COOL is inconsistent with trade agreements because of its discriminatory effect on imported meat and imported live animals, Dopp said.


Related websites:
• American Meat Institute (AMI)
• World Trade Organization (WTO)

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