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USTR General Counsel Explains Appeal of COOL to WTO

Appeal process will take a few months before WTO panel will issue decision.

Published on: Mar 26, 2012

The U.S. government announced it is appealing the World Trade Organization's decision on the Country of Origin Labeling law. U.S. Trade Representative General Counsel Tim Reif says this appeal is to help make sure consumers are provided with accurate and relevant information regarding the origin of beef and pork products.

"We have filed two things, one is a notice of appeal and the second is the actual appeal brief," Reif said. "Through our transparency measures those will both be available on our website. From here the case that is argued in front of the WTO appellate body should happen sometime in the next month and in two months we expect a decision from them."

Appellate panel will hear arguments of U.S. challenge.
Appellate panel will hear arguments of U.S. challenge.

Reif says the issues the WTO panel had with the COOL law included the finding that the way it was done provided somewhat less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican producers. The WTO upheld the right to have the labeling, they just had a problem with how the U.S. implemented the program.

The USTR hopes the appellate body will overturn both decisions made against COOL.

"Particularly that the COOL statute and regulations provide less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock," Reif said. "The second is that the COOL statute and regulations were more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfill our legitimate objectives to provide our of providing information to consumers."

Reif says the USTR expects a decision within two to three months.