USTR files COOL submission with the WTO |

USTR files COOL submission with the WTO

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative filed a legal brief with the World Trade Organization last week on requests by Canada and Mexico to retaliate against the United States following the WTO panel ruling that the U.S. country-of-origin labeling program for beef and pork discriminates against Canadian and Mexican producers.

The July 30 U.S. submission says that the Canadian and Mexican July 10 methodology paper “overestimates the level of nullification or impairment” attributable to COOL— legal language for the approximately $3 billion per year in damages that Canada and Mexico have claimed.

The filing concludes that “the more appropriate level of nullification or impairment” for Canada is $43.22 million per year.

Food & Water Watch said today that the USTR submission “demonstrates the folly of Congress acting to repeal or weaken COOL before the WTO dispute is complete. The new information disproves Canada and Mexico’s overhyped claims for damages in the COOL case and argues for legislative patience rather than haste.”

USTR, Food & Water Watch said, “deconstructs the many economic errors used to estimate the tariff damages in the COOL case and ultimately dismisses the $3 billion penalty as ‘fundamentally flawed,’ ‘inaccurately estimated’ and ‘unsupportable.’”

“The WTO has never certified Canada and Mexico’s absurdly high claims for damages from the COOL case and is only now considering what level of penalties might be appropriate,” Food & Water Watch continued.

“Canada and Mexico have been bullying Congress with their over-inflated claims of damages, but USTR’s latest filing proves that this trade intimidation is all bluster.The Senate is currently considering either repealing COOL or converting it into a voluntary labeling program. Congress should wait for the final WTO decision rather than rashly eliminating or unraveling a law that consumers and farmers overwhelmingly support.”

–Hagstrom Report