In an opinion piece posted Wednesday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy says County of Origin Labeling has the potential to cost America thousands of lost jobs in factories and on farms due to Canadian and Mexican retaliation on U.S. products.
The rule, which a World Trade Organization panel on Monday found to be inconsistent with rules on technical barriers to trade, mandates labeling on meat products which indicate where the originating animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
According to WTO complaints from Canada and Mexico, the countries felt the COOL rule creates unnecessary bias and discriminates against imports.
The countries represent the two largest markets for U.S. exports, the Chamber points out in its opinion piece, and with the ruling could have the power to retaliate by imposing tariffs on an array of American industries.
The Chamber says costs also could go beyond tariff retaliation. "More than 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. American farmers, workers, and companies won’t be able to tap those markets if we don’t live up to these rules—rules we expect others to follow—rules that the United States did more to write than any other country," Murphy writes.
Now, after two failed attempts, the Chamber says, "Congress [should] immediately authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL that have been determined to be noncompliant with international trade obligations by a final WTO adjudication."
Supporters of the rule, however, say it provides needed information to consumers making purchasing decisions, and offers added value to U.S. cattlemen.
Ag organizations opposed to the rule suggest it adds to costs for packers and threatens relationships with trading partners.