Canada released on Friday a lengthy list of food products imported from the United States in a bid to target a possible retaliation against its Southern neighbor over Washington's new regulations under its Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requiring retailers to identify the source of livestock.
In a statement, Canadian International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said that despite repeated rulings by the World Trade Organization (WTO) against this measure, "the U.S. government continues its unfair trade practices, which are severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs."
They said the Canadian government "is extremely disappointed that the United States continues to uphold this protectionist policy, which the WTO has ruled to be unfair" and called on the U. S. to "abide by the WTO ruling."
Last year, that global body found the U.S. COOL system discriminated against foreign livestock and was inconsistent with the trade obligations of the U.S., and gave that country until May 23 of this year to abide by the decision. Instead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a new rule requiring labels to include information on where livestock was born, raised and slaughtered.
That fresh COOL amendment "actually increases the discrimination against imported cattle and thereby leaves the U.S. in a position of non-compliance with its WTO obligations," the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) said in a statement Friday.
The organization, which represents about 63,500 beef farms across Canada, estimates that COOL has cost Canadian cattle producers 640 million Canadian dollars in annual losses since the system was implemented in late 2008.
"Those costs are set to rise under the new amendment to an estimated 90 dollars to 100 dollars per head compared with the 25 dollar to 40 dollar per head hit we currently take, and that is simply unacceptable," said CCA vice-president Dave Solverson.
The CCA argues that the COOL requirement about different labeling for meat produced in the U.S. from imported livestock to distinguish between meat produced from U.S.-born livestock " causes segregation, with additional handling costs inflicted disproportionately on imported livestock."
Instead, the association wants the U.S. to amend its COOL legislation to allow either a single mandatory label for all meat produced in the U.S. or to allow for voluntary labeling.
The Canadian government said it would not act on its list of targeted U.S. product imports which range from cattle and pigs to fruits and cheese as well as stainless steel and furniture until authorized by the WTO to do so.
Canada's largest beef-export market is the U.S., which imports about three-quarters of all such exports. (1 U.S. dollar = 1.0218 Canadian dollars)