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COOL: Potential Trade Barrier of Choice

by 5m Editor
16 May 2012, at 8:22am

CANADA - A Canadian based international trade lawyer suggests Country of Origin Labelling has the potential to become one of the non-tariff barriers to trade if choice in the future, Bruce Cochrane writes.

Earlier this month the World Trade Organization Appellate Body heard the United States' appeal of a November 2011 WTO ruling that US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling violates US trade obligations.

In its ruling, the panel investigating complaints from Canada and Mexico determined the law affords US produced livestock preferential treatment and fails to meet consumer education and food safety objectives.

Peter Clark, with Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates, observes the case has generated a broad range of interest.

Peter Clark-Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates

In terms of the challenge it's been Canada and Mexico and we've worked pretty closely together presenting the issues from our respective viewpoints and frankly there hasn't been too much difference in those approaches other than the Mexicans plead a few other issues because they're a developing country.

There have been eight or nine other countries who have had an interest in the issue and the interests have ranged all over the place to supportive of our position to more or less supportive of the United States to the Europeans trying to keep all of their options open.

The interest is that Country of Origin Labelling, if it were to get through the WTO in some form and, in fact the panel reports indicate how you can do it legally under the WTO, is going to be one of the non-tariff measures of choice in the future.

Mr Clark acknowledges it's difficult to predict how long the issue might be dragged out but Canada's pork producers, who enjoy a good relationship with their US counterparts would dearly love to find a negotiated solution because that would provide quicker relief.