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American Meat Institute Says WTO Affirmation of Previous Ruling Not Surprising; Urges U.S. to Bring Law Into Compliance With Trade Obligations

Monday, July 2, 2012

(American Meat Institute)

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today said that the U.S. must abide by a ruling from a World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body that upheld an earlier WTO finding that mandatory country of origin labeling violates U.S. WTO obligations.

“The WTO has spoken not once but twice: mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) violates our WTO obligations. While the law’s proponents continue to defend it and to challenge the WTO perspective, it’s time to ‘get over it.’ Trade has been an essential part of the U.S. livestock and meat industry’s success and our nation needs to lead in trade the trade arena by example.”

Despite the WTO ruling, the law still stands and meat packers and processors will continue to comply with it as long as it is in place. But he said it is essential that Congress act to change the law to meet our WTO obligations.

In November 2011, the WTO ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in a complaint against the U.S. mandatory COOL law, which took effect in 2008. Following the law’s implementation, U.S. imports of Canadian cattle and hogs and Mexican cattle declined substantially. The complainants had argued that the COOL law is inconsistent with the United States' obligations under several articles of the WTO agreement.

In its November ruling, the panel noted that the U.S. law violated WTO rules on several fronts and wrote specifically that “The COOL measure, particularly in regard to the muscle cut meat labels, violates Article 2.1 because it affords imported livestock treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic livestock.” The Appellate Body today reiterated those earlier findings.

To view the appellate body ruling announced today, click here: http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news12_e/384_386abr_e.htm

To view AMI’s 2010 letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/d/ReleaseDetails/i/56358

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