WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2014 – Canada has appealed parts of a ruling by a World Trade Organization panel in October concerning U.S. country-of-origin meat labeling, or COOL, a ruling many following the process thought was in favor of America’s Neighbor to the North.
Canada is challenging the notion that its lawyers failed to make a prima facie case – accepted as correct until proven necessary – that the amended COOL Rules, which require meat labels to state where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered, are “more restrictive than necessary.”
Christine Constantin with the Embassy of Canada said action Canada is taking is officially a cross appeal to U.S. action at the end of November, when the office of the U.S. Trade Representative appealed the October WTO ruling. That decision said U.S. efforts to bring COOL into compliance with international trade laws only increased COOL’s “detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the U.S. market.”
The appeal also takes issue with the notion that Canada “has not sufficiently and adequately” identified third and fourth alternative labeling measures. “In reaching this finding,” the appeal reads, “the Panel erred by imposing on Canada an obligation to describe the alternative measures with an excessively high level of precision.” Essentially, Canada disagrees with the WTO finding that alternative proposals to COOL either didn’t inform consumers or couldn’t be implemented by the U.S. government.
Finally, Canada asks the appellate panel to find that the original panel “failed to make an objective assessment of the issue, including an objective assessment of the facts.” The appeal notes that “Canada does not take issue with the Panel’s overall conclusion and most of its analysis.”
Chandler Goule, senior vice president of programs with the National Farmers Union, a group in favor of mandatory COOL, said Canada’s cross appeal is a sign that the rule is heading in the right direction.
“This just further goes to show that we continue to narrow the issues with COOL,” Goule said. “Canada is running out of things to say.”
Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, jointly expressed disappointment when the U.S. appealed the WTO ruling in November. In a joint statement, the two said the U.S. was “yet again preventing both of our countries from enjoying the benefits of freer and more open trade and is hurting farmers, ranchers and workers in the United States and Canada.”
The cross appeal now goes with the original U.S. appeal to the WTO. An actual date for further action on the U.S. appeal and Canada’s cross appeal is not publicly known, but many expect the workload of the WTO will make the appeal timeline last longer than the traditional 60 to 90 days.
If the appeals panel upholds the ruling that the COOL rules violate global trade agreements and have caused harm to Canada and Mexico’s livestock industries, the U.S. could face punitive sanctions from both countries.
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