The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in a complaint against the U.S. mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) law, which took effect in 2008. Following the law’s implementation, U.S. imports of Canadian cattle and hogs and Mexican cattle declined substantially.
The complainants had argued that the COOL law is inconsistent with the United States’ obligations under several articles of the WTO agreement.
In its findings, the panel noted that the U.S. law violated WTO rules on several fronts and wrote specifically that “The COOL measure, particularly in regard to the muscle cut meat labels, violates Article 2.1 because it affords imported livestock treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic livestock.”
AMI President J. Patrick Boyle said that the ruling was not surprising. “We’ve contended for years in statements, letters and comments that this law was not just costly and cumbersome, but a violation of our country’s WTO obligations. Given the industry’s export exposure, it was a key argument and concern that we expressed in a 2010 letter to the U.S. Trade Representative,” he said.