Inside US Trade: U.S. Lashes Out Against WTO For Flawed, 'Paradoxical' Rulings On COOL

June 05, 2015


The United States late last week blasted the World Trade Organization for consistently handing down what it said were flawed and paradoxical rulings against U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat that leave members with no viable, WTO-consistent way to deliver information to consumers about the origin of livestock.

[Reposted from Inside US Trade  |  June 3, 2015]

The U.S. criticism came at a May 29 special session of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), where it adopted the WTO Appellate Body's report in the compliance phase of the long-running COOL case.

The May 18 Appellate Body report upheld a compliance panel ruling that faulted an amended 2013 U.S. COOL rule as even more burdensome than the original version and still in violation of trade rules.

At the DSB meeting, the U.S. argued that both the panel and the Appellate Body rulings were flawed because they failed to truly demonstrate that the new regime was more burdensome, or show how the exceptions contained within the COOL rule reflected discrimination in violation of trade rules.

It also complained that the WTO rulings were paradoxical because both in the initial phase of the case and the compliance proceedings, the panels and the Appellate Body have consistently recognized the provision of origin information for consumers to be a "legitimate objective" under Article 2.2 of the TBT Agreement, but then went on to fault the U.S. for how it sought to fulfill that objective. Article 2.2 requires that members' technical measures "not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfill a legitimate objective."

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