Canada set to retaliate

Repealing COOL is the only option, says ag minister

Canada has applied to the World Trade Organization for $3 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs against the United States mandatory country-of-origin labelling law.

The WTO dispute settlement body considers the request June 17 and if it approves, Canada may decide how and when to retaliate.

The Canadian government wants the U.S. to repeal COOL, which applies to cattle and hogs exported to the U.S. If it does not, Canada has vowed to institute punishing tariffs on a wide range of American products that enter Canada.

“Canada’s retaliation will be real and we expect it to be in effect late this summer,” said agriculture minister Gerry Ritz from Washington on June 4. “It is not an option our government or our industries will entertain. A full repeal of COOL is the United States’s only option to avoid retaliation,” Ritz told reporters.

Ritz along with representatives from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council and Canadian Meat Council met with key members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to discuss the next steps.

Dave Solverson, president of the cattlemen’s association who was in Washington with Ritz, suspects the tariffs will first be applied to products from states where politicians still support COOL. He is not concerned they might inadvertently hurt Canadians who need to import American products.

“The government to their credit were very strategic in picking things where there are replacements,” he said.

Last month the WTO ruled against the labelling law for the fourth and final time on the grounds it discriminates against Canadian livestock.

The government estimates COOL has cost the Canadian industry more than $3 billion in losses each year since it was implemented.

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