The next potentially creeping commercial beef between Canada and the United States: beef
As more and more Canadian exports to the United States come under threat from a protectionist White House and Congress, a problem thought to be resolved with country-of-origin labeling for Canadian beef exports is reappeared.
In discussions with its US counterparts, the Canadian government has highlighted the issue of an electric vehicle tax credit that could threaten the Canadian auto industry, a doubling of tariffs on Canadian lumber exports and a pre-emptive ban on PEI potatoes. that contain warty gall. , but left out, DC’s lobbying efforts have focused on pushing Congress to re-impose country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef exports.
Canada had already fought the COOL initiatives of the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which ruled twice in favor of Ottawa. COOL was in place from 2003 until the WTO allowed Canada to impose about $ 1 billion a year in retaliatory duties on the United States in 2015. WTO rulings led the US Congress to remove the disposition.
But the threat has reappeared due to the unlikely partnership of Republican Senators John Thune of North Dakota and Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Democratic Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jon Tester of Montana who introduced the American Beef Labeling Act, that would bring COOL back.
The law calls on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to find a way to make COOL WTO Compliant within a year. If this could not be done, COOL would automatically be re-taxed.
Upon his Senate confirmation in February, Thune asked Vilsack if he would reintroduce COOL, to which he replied that he would if he could be made WTO compliant.
Booker, a vegan, has also co-sponsored a bill alongside Democratic Representative Ro Khanna that aims to protect meat-packing workers. Part of this bill contains a provision to re-impose mandatory country of origin labeling.
Carlo Dade, director of the Canada West Foundation’s trade and investment center, said the problem, which targets cattle ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan, is not receiving the same attention as the trade irritants that affect central and eastern Canada.
“It just didn’t get the attention and it’s one of those issues that makes it seem like [like] these western canadian guys don’t just whine – maybe there’s some substance to their western problems [not] be picked up, âhe said.
Dade said Canada should have used the recent North American Leaders’ Summit to draw attention to the problem in the United States because it is an irritant for Mexico as well.
The potential business irritant is not listed by the Prime Minister’s Office as one of the issues discussed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Quebec) ‘s bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, nor at the summit of North American leaders in November. .
Dade said Canada had many opportunities to raise the issue on the sidelines of the summit, including during Trudeau’s speech in Washington and at a post-summit press conference.
âThe Leaders’ Summit provided one opportunity after another to mention thisâ¦ and we completely dropped the ball on this,â he said.
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton-Stanstead, Quebec) said in an emailed statement that Canada expects the United States to comply with the WTO ruling on the COOL.
“I received assurances from my American counterpart saying as much,” said Bibeau, who was not available for an interview.
“Our government will continue to stand up for Canada’s beef industry – and the workers whose jobs it supports – and will strongly oppose any new US proposals to resuscitate mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef.” and pork, âshe said.
Bibeau added that Canada “retains” the “right” to retaliate with about $ 1 billion in tariffs if the United States reimposes COOL.
International Trade Minister Mary Ng (Markham â Thornhill, Ont.) Was in Washington last week with opposition MPs to defend Canada’s trade relationship as part of a âTeam Canadaâ approach. A reading from Global Affairs notes that the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit, the U.S. Purchase Provisions, Softwood Lumber Duties, and PEI Potato Exports Ã.
Alice Hansen, spokeswoman for Ng, said the trip focused on electric vehicles as the Build Back Better bill is before the United States Senate, noting that Canada expects the United States to move forward. comply with the WTO ruling on COOL.
“Our government will continue to stand up for Canada’s beef industry – and the workers whose jobs it supports – and will strongly oppose any new US proposals to resuscitate mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef.” and pork, âsaid Hansen.
Tory MP John Barlow (Foothills, Alta.), His party’s agriculture critic, said COOL has been on his radar since being mentioned by Vilsack, but the issue has become a growing concern in a context of deteriorating trade relations with the United States.
âYou have to ask yourself what is the next shoe to drop as the Prime Minister and the Liberal government’s relationship with the Biden administration continues to deteriorate rather than improve,â he said.
Barlow echoed Dade that he had hoped the issue would have been a “top priority” at the Three Amigos summit.
âThis is just another major trade irritant between our two countries. It was an uphill battle to take them away [in 2015] and we don’t want to go through that again, âhe said. âI hope this will be a topic of discussion, as I hope the PEI potato issue. and softwood lumber will also be at the heart of these discussions in Washington.
Barlow noted that the option to impose retaliatory tariffs was present if COOL was re-imposed, but said the “most important option” was for Trudeau to “fix the relationship with the United States.”
He said he blamed the trade threats and relationship management at the feet of Trudeau and not the United States, saying the prime minister mismanaged relations in three U.S. administrations.
Dade said threat of COOL re-emergence shows Canada’s need for “persistent ground play” in the United States.
âWe cannot scale up when these business irritants arise. This is an ongoing awareness in the United States, âhe said, noting that Canada must continually back down to defend its interests and not only in Washington, but also at the state level. .
Dade said it’s a “very real possibility” that the United States won’t reach a COOL mechanism that can be WTO-compliant, but will re-impose it anyway.
He said he couldn’t imagine anything more “blatant” than Americans losing a WTO ruling and appeal, then reimposing COOL through a Senate bill.
âAmericans are basically saying, ‘We don’t care about the rule of law [and] we’re not going to pay attention to the rule of law, âDade said. “How do we survive in a [trading] relationship with them when we can’t trust the rules? “
Fawn Jackson, director of policy and international affairs for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said COOL is an issue she always keeps an eye on.
She said it is âwidely understoodâ on both sides of the border that the North American beef industry is a highly integrated industry.
While the option to impose tariffs would be present, Jackson said the focus should be on avoiding getting in a situation where they are needed.
âMaking sure that the value of the integrated market is understood by all the different stakeholders and how it works is really our top priority,â she said.
With Vilsack commenting that the US needs to be WTO compliant and will include collaboration from trading partners, she said the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association considers the issue to be in a “good position” right now.
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