Retaliatory tariffs not cool

by Erica Shaffer
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OTTAWA, Ontario – Mexico and Canada asked the World Trade Organization for the authority to impose tariffs against exports from the United States in retaliation for failing to repeal the federal country of origin labeling regulations.

Canada plans to impose more than $3 billion in retaliatory measures against US exports to Canada, while Mexico will seek authorization for more than $653 million.

“The WTO has ruled that the United States is out of options and out of time,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said. The only way for the United States to avoid billions in immediate retaliation is to repeal COOL.
“Our government will continue to stand on the side of Canadian farmers and ranchers, and we will continue to protect all hardworking Canadians throughout this retaliatory process.”

In response to the ruling, the House Committee on Agriculture voted 38 to 6 in favor of HR 2393, a bill that would repeal COOL requirements for beef, pork and chicken products. But the US Senate may prove more resistant to repealing the regulations. Thirty-one senators from both parties signed a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject efforts to weaken or suspend COOL.

Agriculture industry stakeholders have urged the US government to repeal COOL. The WTO delivered its fourth and final ruling against COOL in May. The retaliatory measures threaten US exports of beef and pork. Additional commodities at risk include wine, cherries, pasta, corn, office furniture and mattresses.
Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said the costs of keeping COOL should now be evident.

“Canada is positioned to impose these tariffs because the World Trade Organization (WTO), in four different rulings, found that the COOL law violates the trade agreements that the United States pledged to follow,” Carpenter said in a statement. “Our country’s credibility as a serious and fair-minded trading partner is on the line. Our government has been outspoken and aggressive when the US faces unfair trade barriers yet it has clung to this problematic law for years and the claimed ‘fixes’ to the COOL rules have only made the situation worse. The United States cannot just talk the trade talk, our country must walk the trade walk.

“The COOL law must be repealed now,” he added. “Without repeal, Americans will pay the price in lost exports and lost jobs because American made exported products will be subject to a ‘COOL tax’ making them more costly and less competitive in foreign markets.”
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