US blocks WTO COOL request

27-10-2009 | |

The United States has blocked requests by Canada and Mexico for World Trade Organization experts to examine new US labelling rules that the two US neighbours say are hurting their meat exports.

Both Canada and Mexico told the WTO’s dispute settlement body that US Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) rules were damaging North American trade.

“COOL is discouraging US retailers, processors, feedlots and producers from buying Canadian livestock and meat. The negative impact on Canadian beef, pork and cattle exporters has been significant,” Canada said in a statement to the dispute body.

It noted that Canada and the United States are each other’s biggest agricultural trading partners, with two-way farm trade totalling $37 billion last year. Canada formally relaunched the dispute in May as Canadian producers said the new US rules, tightened by the Obama administration, were hurting pig and cattle sales. Canada normally exports about C$4 billion of pigs and cattle to the United States.

Mexico also said its exporters were suffering lower prices and uncertainty because of the COOL rules. But the United States said it believed the new labelling requirements were in line with WTO rules.