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WTO Authorizes $1 Billion in COOL Retaliation

On Dec. 7, the WTO dispute settlement body issued a ruling establishing damages in the dispute regarding U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations for meat. Canada sought authorization for $3 billion (Canadian) in retaliatory tariffs, but the WTO set a lower figure of $1.05 billion – or about $777 million in U.S. dollars. Mexico requested $653 million in U.S. dollars, but the authorized amount was set at $227.8 million. More details are available in the following documents:

Canada proceeding

Mexico proceeding

In response to the ruling, Canada’s ministers of agriculture and trade issued a statement reiterating their plans to impose retaliatory duties on imports of U.S. products, “If the U.S. Senate does not take immediate action to repeal COOL for beef and pork.”

In a similar statement, Mexico’s Ministry of Economy said, “Retaliation will be launched shortly and will remain in effect until the U.S. complies with its international commitments in the WTO and deletes the COOL measure in its entirety.”

Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee also chimed in on the ruling, with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) reiterating his call for full repeal of U.S. COOL requirements. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), who proposed a legislative alternative to full repeal of COOL earlier this year, said in a media statement, “I have always said I would not allow retaliation to take effect. It is critical that we work together to find a solution before the end of the year.”

While the House of Representatives passed legislation in June repealing COOL requirements, the Senate has not yet taken action on the issue. If no legislative action is taken to settle the COOL dispute, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will officially authorize Canada and Mexico to impose retaliatory duties at a special meeting set for Dec. 18.