Market News & Headlines >> U.S. Loses WTO Appeal on COOL Law

The World Trade Organization on Monday issued a final ruling against the United States in a dispute case brought by Canada and Mexico against U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rules for meat, opening the potential for those countries to impose billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports if the COOL rules are not revised.

 Both Canada and Mexico on Monday urged repeal of the COOL law and said they would apply to the WTO for the right implement retaliatory measures against U.S. exports. Canada has already issued a broad preliminary list of commodities and manufactured products it intends to target with retaliatory measures that would affect every state in the country. Among agricultural products, that list includes beef, pork and chicken, in addition to a wide range of grains, fruits and dairy products.

The Obama administration will consult with Congress and the public over what steps to take next regarding COOL, an official with the U.S Trade Representative’s office said on Monday. "We are considering all options going forward, and will continue to consult with members of Congress and interested members of the public regarding possible next steps,” USTR Chief Counsel Tim Reif told Reuters News Service in an emailed statement.

U.S. lawmakers have signaled they plan to repeal the laws, requiring retailers such as grocery stores to list the country of origin on meat. A group of business leaders from all sectors of the U.S. economy has urged prompt congressional action to bring the U.S. into compliance on COOL. In a letter sent to the U.S. Senate last week, senators were urged to prepare to act on legislation quickly.

 "Mexico and Canada are the largest export countries for U.S. agriculture, and are the leading export markets for U.S. refined corn products, which are being targeted by both countries. If Congress fails to pass corrective legislation before its summer vacation, billions in exports sales will be lost, business facilities will close and jobs will be lost," said John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, one of the groups that signed the letter.