Unless the U.S. Senate repeals mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) within the next week or so, Canada and Mexico will likely begin tacking retaliatory tariffs on a host of U.S. goods before the end of the year. Odds favor the target list including beef.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized Canada and Mexico to levy more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs annually against the U.S. The award—the final act in a drama of seven years or so—stems from complaints filed by the two key U.S. trading partners that COOL discriminates against imported livestock and is in violation of U.S. trade agreements.
“…whether you support or oppose COOL, the fact is retaliation is coming,” said U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, in response to the WTO announcement. “The WTO has warned us multiple times, and Congress has ignored the warning. This is no longer a warning. Retaliation is real. Now more than ever, we need to repeal COOL.”
Keep in mind that Canada and Mexico are two of the top three export destinations for U.S. beef, accounting for over $2 billion in sales and nearly one-third of total U.S. beef exports.
“We expect the tariffs Mexico and Canada would put on our products would be at a level that would basically stop the trade of beef between our countries,” explained Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, in Tuesday’s Beltway Beef audio program. “Canada and Mexico have made it very clear that the only way they will drop the WTO case and not retaliate is if the U.S. completely repeals the COOL program.”
Senate repeal of the flawed legislation is key because the House voted to repeal it last summer.
“Retaliation can still be prevented if the Senate acts to repeal COOL, but they have to act this week,” Woodall emphasized. “Time is critical. Contact your members of the U.S. Senate and tell them to support the repeal of COOL.”
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