Canada's government launched a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process on Oct. 7 over U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL).
"The U.S. COOL requirements are so onerous that they affect the ability of our cattle and hog exporters to compete fairly in the U.S. market," Stockwell Day, minister of international trade said. "That is why our government has no choice but to request a WTO panel."
The Canadian government charges that these provisions impose unfair and unnecessary costs on integrated North American supply chains, reducing competitiveness in both Canada and the United States.
After two rounds of WTO consultations with the United States failed to resolve the issue, Canada decided to request a panel, which is the next step in the WTO's dispute-settlement process.
Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a joint statement:
"We regret that formal consultations have not been successful in resolving Canada's concerns over COOL required by the 2008 Farm Bill for certain agricultural products.
"We believe that our implementation of COOL provides information to consumers in a manner consistent with our World Trade Organization commitments. Countries have agreed since long before the existence of the WTO that COOL is a legitimate policy. It is common for other countries to require that goods be labeled as to their origin.
"We hope to continue to work with Canada to resolve this issue amicably."
WTO is scheduled to consider the request on Oct. 23.