Canada prepares to retaliate

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Canada's agriculture minister said his country is ready to impose retaliatory tariffs on American goods in response to the United States' country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule, according to reports in the Canadian press.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said he doesn't think the US will reverse course on COOL before Canada gets the go-ahead from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose retaliatory tariffs. Ritz's comments came at a NAFTA meeting in Mexico City with Mexico Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martinez and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

COOL requires meat packers to label muscle cuts of meat with information about where each production step occurred. The US already has lost an appeal of a WTO challenge brought by Canada and Mexico in 2012. Another challenge currently is working through the WTO following a February public hearing on the matter.

Meanwhile, COOL has faced broad opposition by the US beef industry. Groups representing US, Canadian and Mexican meat-industry interests sued the US Department of Agriculture in federal court to overturn COOL. The groups have continued their fight for an injunction against implementing COOL while the lawsuit is pending.

In June 2013, Canada released a list of 38 commodities that could be targeted for retaliatory trade duties. The list included a broad range of items, but mostly agricultural and food products. During the NAFTA meeting, Ritz encouraged Martinez to increase the pressure on the US and release its own list of tariff targets.
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