COOL retaliation imminent

Time is running out to avoid retaliation by Canada and Mexico in Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) disputes. The U.S. objected to Canada's request for nearly $2.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs stemming from the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on COOL for meat. During a June 17 meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), the U.S. referred the issue to arbitration, which delays by at least another 60 days Canada and Mexico's ability to seek sanctions for retaliatory trade measures.

NPPC and The Global Business Dialogue held a panel discussion on the implications of trade retaliation. NPPC outside trade counsel David Bond joined Kenneth Smith Ramos, with the Embassy of Mexico; John Masswohl, with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association; Ken Monahan with the National Association of Manufacturers and Randy Russell, former chief of staff to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to discuss the consequences if the Senate does not act to repeal the meat labeling provisions of COOL.

"If the Senate thinks that there's a middle path on this, that's a very risky strategy to move forward.  That timeline that was outlined is what we are expecting.  We're expecting that, before the end of this summer, we will be authorized to put tariffs on whatever number the WTO authorizes," Masswohl said. According to Masswohl, Canada specifically plans to put retaliatory tariffs on products that are derived from districts of Congressional lawmakers that support COOL, including beef, pork, apples, rice, corn, maple syrup, wine, jewelry, wooden furniture and mattresses. Mexico is in the process of requesting from the WTO the authority to place up to $713 million per year in retaliatory tariffs.

The House voted overwhelmingly last week to repeal COOL requirements. NPPC and the other members of the COOL Reform Coalition, a coalition which represents U.S. workers and organizations with an interest in North American trade, are urging the Senate to likewise repeal COOL in order to protect U.S. workers and U.S. exports from the ravages of trade retaliation.