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Canada Counts on U.S. interests to press for resolution of Country of Origin Labelling issue

Canada’s minister of agriculture is counting on pressure on the American government from within the United States to help bring resolution to the Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling issue.

Last month, in response to a World Trade Organization order to bring Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling into compliance with its international treaty obligations, the United States announced amendments to provisions covering muscle cut covered commodities which will require additional labelling information and eliminate the mixing of products from different countries.

Both Canada and Mexico have indicated they will return to the WTO to seek authority to impose retaliatory tariffs on imported U.S. products and have released lists of products that could be targeted.

On Friday federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz told reporters participating in a conference call following his trade mission to Hong Kong and China he has discussed the labelling issue with allies in the U.S. pork and beef sectors, the American Meat Council and the U.S. retail sector and support for the Canadian position on this issue is quite strong.

I know there are discussions going on within Congress and Senate down there.

The farm bill is being debated as we speak.

That’s why we felt it was incumbent that we get the list of possible sanctions that could be applied and the products that would be covered as quickly as possible, as did our Mexican allies.

I know that our American allies, the Meat Institute, the beef growers, the pork, all of those are also talking about pressure on their own government.

They’ve identified several hundreds of millions of dollars it’ll cost them to implement that as well in the U.S. so we’re hoping that by helping those people making those speeches in the Senate and so forth that they may have a change of heart and make the changes that we feel are required to measure to the spirit and intention of the WTO action that we implemented.

Ritz notes at the same time that Canada is putting pressure on the Americans to resolve the labelling issue we’re opening new markets to put less dependence on the American industry.

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