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M-COOL Negotiations Yield Little Progress

by 5m Editor
30 June 2009, at 8:06am

CANADA - The minister of international trade reports there is little progress in discussions with the United States aimed at resolving Canada's concerns over Mandatory US Country of Origin Labelling (M-COOL), writes Bruce Cochrane.

Last September new rules took effect which require a range of foods, including muscle cuts and ground meats including beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken and goat meat to be identified at US retail according to its country of origin.

In February, approximately three weeks before the 16 March implementation of the final rule for Mandatory COOL, US agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, issued a letter calling on American retailers to implement additional voluntary labelling measures.

That prompted Canada to request additional formal consultations with the US under the World Trade Organization dispute settlement process.

In the event the formal consultations fail to resolve the dispute, Canada will be in a position to request that the matter be referred to a WTO dispute settlement panel.

International trade minister, Stockwell Day, reports the issue remains unresolved.

Stockwell Day - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister

We're not happy with their response to our concerns back in January and February and so we filed under WTO for the consultation process.

That process, the time limit is winding down.

The people were appointed to do the consultations, to compare the notes.

I can't say that I've seen great movement there so we may have to take it directly to the dispute settlement mechanism.

We're prepared to do that.

We've told the Americans that.

We'd like to see this settled in the final phases of the consultation process but if that's not possible we will not hesitate to take it to a dispute.


Minister Day says indications are that the US understands Canada's position on Country of Origin Labelling but really has not come up with a solution that Canada can live with so we may have to force the issue by taking it through the dispute settlement mechanism.