WTO rules strongly in favor of Canada in COOL case

Calgary, AB – The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is extremely pleased that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favour of Canada and Mexico’s complaint against U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). We commend Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz, International Trade Minister Ed Fast, and the Government of Canada’s legal team that presented an outstanding case on Canada’s behalf.

Released publically today by the WTO, the ruling supports Canada’s position that provisions of COOL discriminate against live cattle and hogs imported into the U.S. from Canada to the detriment of Canadian cattle producers. The CCA has maintained that since coming into effect in 2008, COOL has increased costs for U.S. companies that import live Canadian cattle thereby reducing the competiveness of those Canadian cattle in the U.S. market. The WTO confirmed that COOL has had this effect.

In addition to thanking the Government of Canada, CCA President Travis Toews acknowledged the role of the CCA in ensuring the successful outcome of today’s WTO ruling. “Throughout this process, the CCA has expended considerable time and resources in gathering the data and experts required for preparation of the case,” he said. “The favourable ruling from WTO speaks volumes about the level of effort we expended in this process. In my view, the CCA played a pivotal role in the success of the case.”

Even before COOL was implemented, the CCA anticipated the harmful impact it would have on the largely integrated North American market and asked the Government of Canada to challenge COOL at the WTO. In 2007, the CCA together with the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) provided to the Government of Canada a legal analysis to support the CCA/CPC’s request that a formal trade challenge to COOL be pursued, and worked with the Government of Canada in the development of its case. The formal WTO process was initiated in late 2008 and the Dispute Panel was officially established in November 2009.

The work of obtaining change in U.S. legislation lies ahead. We hope the U.S. will decide that complying with the WTO ruling will be in its best interest. The CCA has worked closely with the U.S. industry and met regularly with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the ruling to clearly communicate that we do not ask for the outright repeal of COOL but seek only those regulatory and statutory changes necessary to eliminate the discrimination that COOL has imposed to the comparative disadvantage of livestock imported into the U.S. vis-a-vie U.S. livestock.

If the U.S. chooses to disregard the WTO Panel’s judgement against it, then the CCA will work with the Canadian government through the appellate process, and, if necessary, regarding retaliatory options.

The CCA has been involved in a number of WTO actions, including this case against the U.S. and the case against Korea’s import restrictions on beef. These cases are lengthy and expensive, but when all other options have been exhausted, we are gratified that such a formal process is available. The CCA is committed to working with the Government of Canada to strongly defend the rights of Canadian beef cattle producers.

Download Summary of COOL Panel Findings