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WTO holds US COOL provisions violative of TBT agreement

25th November, 2011

Certain provisions of Certificate of Origin Labelling (COOL) requirements brought by the U.S. have been held by WTO Panel as violative of Article 2.1 of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) between the WTO members.

As per the provisions, collectively called as COOL measures, the retailer in the U.S. is under obligation to inform his buyers, the country of origin of the product, mainly beef and pork. The provisions further provide that a product can be said to be of U.S. origin only when the animal from which the product is derived is born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. 

Both Canada and Mexico which complained to the WTO against the provisions argued that the measures accorded imported livestock less favourable treatment than that accorded to like domestic livestock and hence were inconsistent with Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement.  The complainants asserted that this was because complying with the COOL requirements resulted in higher segregation costs for imported livestock, which in turn affects the competitiveness of imported livestock in the market.

The WTO Body in its report issued on 18th November, 2011 has held that the provisions were violative of TBT as they gave less favourable treatment to cattle from Canada and Mexico. The Panel Report also states that the provisions did not fulfill the objective of providing consumers with origin information as is the case with mixed varieties i.e. when the imported cattle gets mixed with the domestic ones before or after processing.
India with EU, Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Peru, New Zealand, Brazil, Guatemala and Chinese Taipei  had also reserved their third-party rights in the dispute.
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