Food labeling causes US – Canada spat
Canada threatens a court fight and import tariffs over U.S. food labeling.
Canada’s agriculture minister says he’s hoping to avoid an all-out trade war with the United States over food labeling.
But Gerry Ritz warns that, if there is a war, he’s prepared to fight it.
Ritz has launched a last-minute appeal to American lawmakers to change U.S. food labeling rules through a 950-page Farm Bill that could come to a first vote as early as tomorrow.
Canada has long complained that the so-called Country Of Original Labelling provisions adopted by the U.S. government in 2008 hurt meat industries on both sides of the border.
Hopes for a settlement of the dispute were dashed Monday when U.S. lawmakers reached a deal that did not include changes to the labeling requirements.
Failing any last-minute amendments, Ritz says Canada will return the dispute to the World Trade Organization, with arguments in the case expected to begin Feb. 18.
If the WTO rules in Canada’s favor, tariffs could be imposed by early 2015 on U.S. exports of everything from beef and pork products to grains and fresh fruits.
In the meantime, Ritz says Canada will join industry stakeholders in the United States and Mexico in a bid to obtain a court injunction preventing the U.S. government from implementing the farm bill.