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Major U.S. firms support Canada in meat battle

Posted by Eric Anderson Dec 10, 2015

10 Dec 2015
ALEXANDER PANETTA THE CANADIAN PRESS

U.S. firms support Canada in meat battle

WASHINGTON Canada is getting the backing of considerable American corporate muscle at a determining moment in an ongoing trade struggle with the United States Congress.
About 250 U.S. companies and trade associations have sent a letter to every member of the U.S. Senate, urging them to heed Canadian and Mexican concerns over meat-labelling rules.
This comes after the World Trade Organization sided with Canada and Mexico in the dispute, opening the door to the imminent imposition of tariffs on American goods including meat, wine, and frozen orange juice.
The letter warns that the U.S. will face US$1 billion in tariffs on a wide range of products unless the chamber does away with a requirement that meat on American grocery shelves be labelled by its country of origin.
It’s signed by some of the country’s best-known companies, including Coca-Cola, Kraft and General Mills, as well as trade associations representing everything from livestock-producers to vineyards.
“There’s a lot of powerful U.S. paddlers joining Canada in this canoe to get repeal of COOL (country-of-origin labelling),” Gary Doer, Canada’s U.S. ambassador, said of the letter.
After a years-long dispute, the issue could be decided by the holidays.
Proponents of meat-labelling call it a fair system for letting consumers know where their food comes from. Opponents say it does nothing for food safety — for which there are already inspections.
They argue that it’s just disguised protectionism — a system that forces importers to spend extra money to separate foreign and domestic livestock, drives up the cost of imports and makes them less competitive.
The World Trade Organization has sided against the U.S., allowing penalties on American products.
Now the letter-signers want the Senate to adopt a bill passed in the House of Representatives that does away with the requirement that meat sold in the U.S. be labelled by country of origin.
 
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