In a letter to Congress dated November 21, 2014, the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Reform Coalition called on lawmakers to act quickly to pass a law authorizing the Department of Agriculture to make changes to its country of origin labeling protocol regarding beef and pork to avoid potential retaliatory tariff hikes from Canada and Mexico. The urgency to put a contingency plan in place stems from the October 20, 2014 release of a World Trade Organization (WTO) report declaring the U.S. COOL revised rules non-compliant. The Mexican and Canadian governments, which submitted the case to the WTO, would be in a position to impose tariffs on U.S. goods and agricultural products depending on the adjudication of the matter by the WTO. That adjudication is expected in the latter part of 2015.
The letter to Congress asks that the current statute be amended to include a contingency plan that would take effect if the WTO makes the determination that the U.S. is out of compliance with its trade obligations. The COOL Reform Coalition seeks to avoid the possible $2 billion in retaliatory tariffs that could be levied against U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods and products.
by Suzanne DeCuir