Canada is still considering what U.S. exports it might target for retaliatory tariffs if Washington fails to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling against its country-of-origin labelling law, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
“We’re looking at all our options, but we don’t want to penalize our allies in the U.S. livestock and meat-processing sectors by imposing tariffs on their products,” Ritz said.
The WTO gave the U.S. until May 23 to amend its so-called COOL law to end discrimination against Canadian and Mexican beef and pork. To buy time, the U.S. has responded by proposing obscure rule changes on consumer labelling that critics say would only worsen the situation.
Ritz has previously said he was confident the U.S. would comply with the WTO ruling. Ottawa can, in theory, impose a $1-billion-a-year’s worth of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to this country – but that would be tricky at a time when the federal government is hoping Washington will give a thumbs up to the XL pipeline.
However, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association favour retaliatory action, saying the law has cost Canadian farmers $5 billion and counting in lost sales and lower prices since it was imposed in 2008. Both are aware that U.S. processors and many farm groups oppose COOL and have been asking them for suggestions on how to make retaliatory tariffs more effective.