The World Trade Organization announced its final ruling on the Country of Origin labeling dispute between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico, confirming earlier rumors that the U.S. has lost its last appeal. The WTO made the announcement this morning following months of rumors; the decision will open the way for retaliatory trade measures by Canada and Mexico. The news comes as a blessing to many in the U.S. meat packing industry who have stated the rules were too restrictive. The ruling follows years of complaints by both Canada and Mexico that the U.S.’s mandatory labeling laws were discriminatory. Just last year the WTO found in favor of the plantiff parties which led to USDA redrafting the rules. USDA has said they felt the rules were in compliance with international laws, but has stated several times in various committee hearings on Capitol Hill that if this appeal failed there was little they could do to bring the law into compliance. House Ag Committee Chair Michael Conaway issued this statement following the announcement:
“Once again, the WTO has found COOL to be non-compliant – a decision we fully expected. As retaliation by Canada and Mexico becomes a reality, it is more important now than ever to act quickly to avoid a protracted trade war with our two largest trade partners. I have asked my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee to weigh in on resolving this issue once and for all during a business meeting this Wednesday in a targeted effort to remove ongoing uncertainty and to provide stability.”
Conaway has previously stated his intentions to initiate a repeal process in the House should this be the outcome of the appeals process. A news conference with Chairman Conaway, Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), John Murphy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ken Monahan of the National Association of Manufacturers, John Weber of the National Pork Producers Council, and Philip Ellis of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has been scheduled for tomorrow.