MEXICO - Canada has renewed its call to the US to end the discrimination against Canadian cattle and pigs under the mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) regulations.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz also called for improved market access for Canadian beef into Mexico from animals over 30 months old, which he said was in accordance with science based rules.
Mr Ritz is also reported to have indicated that if the dispute with the US continues over COOL, retaliatory actions could soon be imposed.
The demands were made as Mr Ritz concluded a visit to Mexico, where he and his two counterparts, Mexican Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martínez, and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, gathered together for the first time.
To mark the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA) 20th anniversary, Minister Ritz joined Secretaries Vilsack and Martínez to discuss the vast benefits the Agreement has created for the North American agriculture industry at a panel discussion with the three agriculture leaders.
During the NAFTA panel, Minister Ritz stressed the importance of fair and science-based decisions to facilitate trade within the NAFTA region.
Minister Ritz later reinforced the same message during bilateral discussions with US Secretary Vilsack and Mexican Secretary Martínez.
Minister Ritz also travelled from Mexico City to Zacatecas, Mexico, for the Mexican Cattle Association's Annual Convention, which provided him the opportunity to reinforce Canada's position on US mandatory COOL with key industry leaders and express the need for cattle industries within the NAFTA region to work together to address this important issue.
"The signing of NAFTA 20 years ago has led to a more competitive and integrated North American agriculture industry," said Minister Ritz.
"This visit to Mexico provided a unique opportunity for myself, US Secretary Vilsack and Mexican Secretary Martínez to come together to reaffirm our continued commitment to promoting a fair, open and integrated North American market that will continue to keep our industries strong."
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