Washington, D.C. — “The Obama administration filed a legal brief in the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute over the U.S. mandatory country of origin (COOL) labeling law for beef and pork that demonstrates the folly of Congress acting to repeal or weaken COOL before the WTO dispute is complete. The new information disproves Canada and Mexico’s overhyped claims for damages in the COOL case and argues for legislative patience rather than haste.
“Last week, the U.S. Trade Representative filed a brief in the WTO case documenting that actual penalties in the WTO COOL case should only be $91 million, a tiny fraction of the $3 billion in tariff retaliation threatened by Canada and Mexico. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) deconstructs the many economic errors used to estimate the tariff damages in the COOL case and ultimately dismisses the $3 billion penalty as ‘fundamentally flawed,’ ‘inaccurately estimated’ and ‘unsupportable.’
“The WTO has never certified Canada and Mexico’s absurdly high claims for damages from the COOL case and is only now considering what level of penalties might be appropriate. The USTR filing demonstrates that the penalties could — indeed should — be a tiny fraction of the $3 billion penalty used by Congress to justify repealing or weakening COOL before the final penalty is assessed by the WTO.
“Canada and Mexico have been bullying Congress with their over-inflated claims of damages, but USTR’s latest filing proves that this trade intimidation is all bluster. The Senate is currently considering either repealing COOL or converting it into a voluntary labeling program. Congress should wait for the final WTO decision rather than rashly eliminating or unraveling a law that consumers and farmers overwhelmingly support.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.