Mexico and Canada File WTO Complaints Regarding U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling Regulations
By National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,
In formal complaints filed last week with the World Trade Organization (WTO), Mexico and Canada claim that the U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law appears to be inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the WTO. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is extremely concerned about the impact of COOL on our relationships with our top two trading partners. Beef trade with Mexico was worth nearly $1.4 billion in 2008, and trade with Canada came in at $716 million. Together, the markets account for 58% of our beef export trade.
In addition to potential trade impacts, we’re also concerned about the rule’s economic consequences. We’ve seen indications of drops in feeder cattle prices at our borders to the North and South, which is impacting all segments of our industry.
It’s important to understand that COOL is purely a marketing tool that provides consumers with information on the origin of beef products. It is not a food safety tool. All beef consumed in the U.S. is subject to rigorous health and safety inspections-regardless of its origin.
COOL became mandatory on September 30, 2008. The final rule went into effect on March 16, 2009. Over the next few months, NCBA will be closely monitoring the implementation of COOL and its effects on domestic beef demand and international trade.
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