WTO Releases Compliance Report on COOL

On Oct. 20, the World Trade Organization released the compliance panel report on U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements, finding them inconsistent with international trade obligations. A summary of the compliance panel’s conclusions and recommendations and other related documents are available online. A confidential interim report was issued in June to trade officials representing the U.S., Canada and Mexico in the dispute, but this week’s report was the first public release of the panel’s findings.

Trade and agricultural ministers from Canada and Mexico issued a joint news release in response to the report, which included the following statement:

“We remain committed to using the WTO process to reach a satisfactory resolution to our concern, including if and as necessary, seeking authorization to implement retaliatory measures on U.S. agricultural and non-agricultural products.”

U.S. trade officials must decide within 60 days whether to appeal the ruling. WTO authorization for retaliatory measures will not be issued until after the appeal process is complete, and only if the compliance panel ruling is upheld.

“Informing U.S. consumers about the origin of the meat products they purchase is important, but this must be accomplished in a manner consistent with our international trade obligations,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “U.S. beef, pork and lamb shipments to Mexico and Canada make up about one-third of our total global export value, so USMEF is hopeful that a trade impasse with these two important trading partners can be avoided.”