U.S. and Canada Agree on Dispute Settlement Procedures in COOL Dispute

… the government of Canada released earlier this month a list of U.S. goods that could be subject to retaliation in an ongoing dispute over U.S. country of origin labeling regulations for meat. Canada contends that the final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service amending the country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cut covered commodities to provide consumers with more specific information merely perpetuates a “protectionist policy” that is “severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs.” Accordingly, Canada has signaled its intention to pursue “a fair resolution of this issue through the WTO.”

In this regard, the U.S. and Canada on June 13 issued a set of agreed procedures under Articles 21 and 22 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding regarding the COOL dispute. Article 21 relates to surveillance of implementation of recommendations and rulings while Article 22 involves compensation and the suspension of concessions. Highlights of these procedures are provided below.

– If Canada considers that the U.S. adopted a measure to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body in the case at hand that is inconsistent or there is disagreement between the parties as to the existence of a measure taken to comply, Canada may request the establishment of a panel at any time.

– Canada is not required to hold consultations with the U.S. prior to requesting the establishment of a panel.