Ottawa seeks revision to country-of-origin labelling rules

Ottawa is again going to the World Trade Organization to try and get the United States to change its country-of-origin labelling rules that Canadian cattle and hog producers say is costing them $1 billion a year.

OTTAWA — Ottawa is again going to the World Trade Organization to try and get the United States to change its country-of-origin labelling rules that Canadian cattle and hog producers say is costing them $1 billion a year.

The complaint is just the latest in a long line dating back to 2008 and, although the process is winding down, it could be another year before a final resolution is reached, officials say.

The latest effort by Canada relates to recent changes made by Washington to the application of its rules-of-origin labelling system, known as COOL, as a result of an unfavourable judgment by the WTO last fall.

But Trade Minister Ed Fast has said the changes, if anything, made matters worse and threatened to retaliate.

In June, the government issued a list of 38 commodity imports from the U.S. worth $7 billion that could be subject to punitive taxes once it got the go-ahead from the world rule-making body.

In a statement Monday, Fast said he was asking the WTO to establish a compliance panel to decide whether the recent changes made by the U.S. met their obligations.

“We believe that the recent amendments to the COOL measure will further hinder the ability of Canadian cattle and hog producers to freely compete in the U.S. market,” the minister is quoted as saying.

“We had hoped to avoid having to again resort to the WTO to resolve this matter. However, despite consistent rulings by the WTO, the U.S. government continues its unfair trade practices, which are severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs.”

The minister was on route to an international trade meeting in Brunei and could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The U.S. government announced in May new regulations to the labelling system that would track cattle and hogs right from the farm to meat processing and distribution systems.

Labels in grocery stores would include such information as “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States” for American meat. Cuts of meat from other countries could carry labels such as “born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

Canada has long objected to the labelling system on the grounds that it’s costly, burdensome and is leading to the “disintegration” of the North American supply chain.

Mexico, which also objects to the COOL regulations, is expected to follow the Canadian route and in seeking a compliance panel.

The process has frustrated exporters from both countries since 2008, when Washington first imposed its country-of-origin labelling system, but seeking redress at the WTO has been slow and arduous.

Even if the WTO compliance panel sides with Canada and Mexico on the latest dispute, Washington could still appeal the decision.

Should the two countries win, past history suggests it could take a year or more before they receive a green light to retaliate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has defended its labelling rules as an aid to consumers, giving them the information to make decisions about the origin of the food they consume. Canadian and Mexican producers argue it is little more than a non-tariff barrier to favour domestic producers.

The labelling system cut Canadian cattle shipments to the U.S. by 50 per cent within a year and cut the export of slaughter hogs by 58 per cent.

The Canadian Pork Council recently estimated that since COOL was introduced, exports to the U.S. of Canadian hogs have fallen 41 per cent, and of cattle by 46 per cent. It put the total damages, including price declines, lost sales and added costs to the sector, at more than $1 billion a year.

Just Posted

Two people die in Rocky-area collision

Rocky Mountain House RCMP investigate

RDC launches week of activities focusing on student mental health

Learners invited to join the discussion at #MakeSomeTimeRDC

Husky Energy walks away from its hostile takeover bid for MEG Energy

CALGARY — Husky Energy Inc. is walking away from its hostile takeover… Continue reading

Facebook shuts hundreds of Russia-linked pages, accounts

LONDON — Facebook said Thursday it removed hundreds of Russia-linked pages, groups… Continue reading

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Body of Canadian miner found after African kidnapping

Kirk Woodman’s body was discovered 100 kilometres from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Burkina Faso

Canada’s Conners on his way to full PGA Tour card with fast start to 2019 season

Corey Conners was working on his putting last Friday when fellow Canadian… Continue reading

Canada’s Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov advance at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canada’s Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov have advanced to… Continue reading

Study finds more than half of food produced in Canada wasted

The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates

AP Exclusive: A peek at how Disney resort shows are made

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — With excitement building over a new “Star… Continue reading

Justin Bieber’s ‘Steps to Stardom’ hometown exhibit makes plans for a book

STRATFORD, Ont. — Justin Bieber’s meteoric rise to pop stardom will be… Continue reading

Snowed-in Austrian nuns insist they’re staying put

Authorities have deployed heavy equipment to clear snow and fallen trees blocking the road to the monastery

Most Read