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CANADA - Assurances have been received that Canadian and Mexican concerns over US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling will be addressed, writes Bruce Cochrane.
The World Trade Organisation is scheduled to release its decision on 18 May on the United States' final appeal of rulings that US Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) discriminates against imported livestock from Canada and Mexico in violation of US trade obligations.
The legislation, which requires retailers to label beef and pork, according to where it was born, raised, and slaughtered, prompted many US processors to stop using imported product rather than keep it segregated.
A ruling in favour of Canada and Mexico will open the door for those two nations to impose retaliatory tariffs on a range of products imported from the US.
Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz told reporters taking part in a telephone news conference, following his participation in the G20 Ministerial Agricultural Meeting in Turkey, that he had the opportunity to discuss the matter with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during that meeting.
Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:
Tom and I had a very candid conversation today here in Istanbul.
He recognises now the economic hurt that this is actually doing to his own industry, so he's given instructions to the administration to bring forward a piece of legislation that will either look at a NAFTA label which of course would encompass us or something that would seek to repeal what COOL has done.
I'm firmly in the camp of repeal.
We don't want the second shoe dropping some three or four years down the road when someone else gets this ridiculous idea.
Tom is on-board fully now saying we have to work together.
We can no longer negate the intricacies of the North American market place so I welcome that change.
The epiphany he had on the way to Istanbul I guess was resounding.
Canada has indicated it's prepared to impose duties on a wide range of imported US products, from steel to California wine, if the issue isn't settled.
TheMeatSite News Desk