The World Trade Organization has decided it will establish a dispute settlement panel to rule on the legality of the U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling law. The WTO decision comes after Canada and Mexico filed challenges, saying the U.S. law is hurting their meat exports to the United States. The two countries say the rules are stifling their livestock industries because U.S. meatpackers are choosing to refrain from buying their animals rather than go through the trouble of sorting them and labeling product in accordance with the rules.
"COOL is having a negative impact on Canadian farmers and livestock producers," said Stockwell Day, Canada's minister of international trade. "We continue to stand up for the rights of Canadian producers during the dispute settlement process and make the case that the U.S. should lift these onerous requirements."
The WTO dispute panel will determine whether COOL rules comply with U.S. WTO trade obligations. A report is not expected until next summer or early fall.
In other WTO action, a panel will investigate the decade-long European Union ban on imports of U.S. poultry. The panel will look at EU restrictions on poultry processed with the anti-bacterial chemicals chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chloride, trisodium phosphate and peroxyacids.
The WTO can authorize sanctions against nations that don't follow its rulings but cannot force countries to comply. A ruling is expected within nine months. The 27-country European bloc ban has been in place since 1997.