WASHINGTON – On Nov. 18, the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in a complaint against the US’ mandatory country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) law, which took effect in 2008. Following the law’s implementation, US imports of Canadian cattle and hogs and Mexican cattle dramatically declined, according to the American Meat Institute.

Canada and Mexico had argued the COOL law is inconsistent with the US’ obligations under several articles of the WTO agreement. The WTO panel noted ni its findings the US law violated WTO rules on several fronts and wrote specifically, “The COOL measure, particularly in regard to the muscle-cut meat labels, violates Article 2.1 because it affords imported livestock treatment less favorable than that accorded to like domestic livestock.”

WTO’s ruling was not surprising, said J. Patrick Boyle, AMI president. “We’ve contended for years in statements, letters and comments that this law was not just costly and cumbersome, but a violation of our country’s WTO obligations,” he added. “Given the industry’s export exposure, it was a key argument and concern that we expressed in a 2010 letter to the US Trade Representative.”