Monday, December 1, 2014

US Appeals WTO Ruling on County of Origin Labelling Requirements

On Friday, the United States filed an appeal of the World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel's report in “US – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements (Article 21.5 – Canada and Mexico)” (WT/DS384, WT/DS386).  This dispute was originally  filed against the United States by Canada and concerns a requirement in the U.S. Agricultural Marketing Act, as amended, that determines how a product's country of origin is to be determined and disclosed to consumers.

In 2011, a WTO dispute settlement panel found that the U.S. rules were inconsistent with the United States' WTO obligations in part because they do not fulfill the legitimate objective of providing consumers with information on origin.  In 2012, the WTO Appellate Body upheld the panel's finding that the U.S. measure violates the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), but for different reasons. 

The United States notified the WTO of its intent to comply with the ruling, but requested a reasonable period of time to implement the decision. In 2013, the United States issued a new final rule to comply with the WTO decision; however, Canada disputed whether the amended rule is compliant with WTO obligations.  Accordingly, Canada requested the establishment of a compliance panel.  That compliance panel agreed with Canada that the amended COOL regulation also violates the TBT Agreement.  It is this decision that the United States is now appealing.  The WTO Appellate Body will now consider this latest development in this long-running dispute.


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