Canada's ag ministry on Thursday asked the World Trade Organization for authorization to complete $3 billion in retaliatory measures on grounds that the U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling requirement harms trade.
Canada's request will be considered by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on June 17, 2015, Canada's International Trade and Agriculture and Agri-Food offices said.
The request comes as the WTO on May 18 ruled that the COOL rule was noncompliant with WTO trade rules. Canada asserts the rule, which requires that certain products be labeled with the country where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, discriminate against the country's own cattle and hogs.
"Despite the WTO's final ruling that U.S. country of origin labelling measures are discriminatory, the United States continues to avoid its international trade obligations," Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast said in a statement.
Gerry Ritz, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, reaffirmed a call to eliminate – not alter – the rule. Ritz said it was obvious previous attempts to "water down" the rule were not successful.
"The WTO has ruled that the United States is out of options and out of time. The only way for the United States to avoid billions in immediate retaliation is to repeal COOL," he said in a statement.
Ritz and representatives from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Canadian Pork Council, and the Canadian Meat Council are in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss COOL with U.S. legislators. Ritz said during a press call Thursday that Mexican officials also have taken part in this week's meetings, and expect to add about $650 million in retaliatory measures to Canada's $3 billion.
If Canada is granted authority to retaliate, a wide range of products including cattle and pork, dairy and produce products, even domestic products like furniture, could be affected.
Looking for COOL repeal >>
Last week, the House Ag Committee approved a bill to repeal the COOL rule. A vote is expected in the full House on June 9, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Ritz said he is supportive of the bill, noting that the 38-6 vote out of committee showcased "fantastic work" on behalf of the bill's sponsors.
In the U.S., several agriculture groups in addition to NCBA are supportive of measures to remove the COOL rule. The National Corn Growers Thursday showed concern for the retaliation announcement as Chip Bowling, NCGA president, said the rule has a significant impact on trade relationships between the U.S. and our partners.
"Ag trade is a vital part of the U.S. economy. Retaliation by Canada will have a significant impact on American farmers and ranchers, threatening rural economies as well as our relationship with one of America's greatest allies and trading partners.
"We urge Congress to quickly pass legislation to ensure the United States is in compliance with World Trade Organization obligations in regards to country-of-origin labeling," Bowling said.
Continued reading: Canada to discuss COOL rule as ag minister visits D.C.