Canada, Mexico warn Congress to repeal meat-labeling rule or face sanctions

Canada and Mexico warned on Thursday that they are prepared to slap more than $1 billion in sanctions on U.S. exporters if Congress fails to repeal a contentious meat-labeling rule.

The House and Senate appear poised to nix Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements first authorized in 2002 as part of a $1.1 trillion spending bill that could clear Congress as early as Friday.

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Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of international trade, and Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s secretary of economy, said in a joint statement that they are "closely following recent and positive developments in the U.S. Congress to repeal COOL for beef and pork."

"COOL harms both Canadian and Mexican livestock producers," they said from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nairobi.

“If the COOL repeal is not signed into law, Canada and Mexico are prepared to quickly exercise their retaliatory rights.”

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Star gymnasts call on Congress to dissolve US Olympics board Expats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines MORE (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, told reporters on Wednesday that the WTO’s decision required quick action on COOL even amid disagreement in both chambers on how to proceed. 

"I think the difference here was the real threat of those tariffs meant that the timing of the announcement of the $1.1 billion in potential sanctions, the timing of that was such that it lit the proverbial fire under this issue and became such an important one that the consensus was developed," Moran said.

The United States will avert sanctions on more than $1 billion worth of U.S. goods from Mexico and Canada, two of the nation's top trading partners, if Congress can send the massive omnibus spending measure to President Obama. 

The House had passed a measure in June but the Senate never built a consensus to consider legislation.