Feedstuffs confirmed that a panel appointed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued a preliminary ruling that the U.S. country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) rule violates WTO trade standards.
The ruling states that U.S. COOL violates certain provisions in WTO's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and supports Canada's and Mexico's arguments that COOL constitutes an illegal, non-tariff trade barrier that treats U.S. livestock and perishable commodities more favorably than livestock, fruits and vegetables and other covered commodities from Canada and Mexico.
The ruling was issued May 20 and is supposed to be confidential for 30 days, according to Feedstuffs sources. It also is to be considered preliminary, although WTO panels rarely reverse their decisions, and the ruling is likely to be finalized by midyear and made public in September, sources said. The United States will then have two months to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
In the meantime, producers and packers/processors should continue to follow COOL provisions, according to trade association sources.
The American Sheep Industry Association strongly supports COOL for lamb.
Reprinted in part from Feedstuffs.com