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WTO Rules on U.S. COOL Measures
October 29, 2014


    The World Trade Organization Ruled on October 20, 2014 that U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements still discriminate against Canada and Mexico.  The United States altered their meat labeling regulations in May 2013 to comply with a prior WTO ruling.  However, the compliance panel found that the changes were not sufficient and actually caused more harm to Canada and Mexico.  The regulation changes required the countries to provide information on where the animal was raised, slaughtered, and packaged.  This would force the meat industry to spend more resources segregating and keeping track of their livestock.  The WTO compliance panel found the COOL measure harmful “because it necessitates increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin, entails a higher record-keeping burden, and increases the original COOL measure's incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock.”

    In their decision, the compliance panel found that the COOL measures still violate Article 2.1 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), which prevents discrimination against other countries’ exports.  However, the panel ruled that the COOL did not violate Article 2.2 of TBT, which states that “members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade.”  

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