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Canada ready to re-instate WTO challenge

Canada is prepared to resurrect its World Trade Organisation challenge to US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling rules once such action becomes necessary, says the federal agriculture minister.

Following the mid-January release of the final rule for US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling, the government of Canada shelved its request for formal consultations with the US over the legislation under the World Trade Organisation dispute setting mechanism.

In the wake of US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack's subsequent request for additional voluntary labelling measures that go beyond the requirements outlined in the final rule, several Canadian agricultural organisations have called on Ottawa to re-initiate that challenge.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz acknowledges comments regarding additional "voluntary labelling" are causing uncertainty and concern for livestock industries on both sides of the border.

Gerry Ritz: "What we've asked industry to do is give us some quantifiable results showing where contracts have been denied, they haven't been fulfilled… There is always some but we're seeing that scale widen… We are in, as I said, constant contact with Vilsack's office. I know my office was in discussions with his, I am lining up face to face meetings with secretary Vilsack just as soon as I can possibly get away from a minority government situation as we have and will continue discussions.At the same time we are more than ready to move forward with the WTO challenge to the next steps."

Source: Farmscape

Natalie Berkhout

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