Ottawa threatens tariffs against U.S. ketchup, chocolate, wine
A display of ketchup bottles arranged to look like a giant ketchup bottle is on display in front of a historical photograph during the preview for the opening of the H.J Heinz Co. exhibition at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. (AP / Keith Srakocic)
Published Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:57AM EDT
Canada is threatening to slap tariffs on dozens of products imported from the U.S., including ketchup, chocolate and wine, after the World Trade Organization ruled for the third time that its meat-labelling laws discriminate against Canadian and Mexican livestock.
On Monday, a WTO compliance panel ruled that the United States’ revised country of origin labelling (COOL) policy for beef and pork “violates” the technical barriers to trade, or TBT, agreement “because it accords imported Canadian livestock treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic livestock.”
The COOL policy has a “detrimental impact” on Canadian livestock’s ability to compete in the U.S. market, the WTO ruled. The panel recommends that the U.S. change the policy to conform with its obligations under the TBT agreement.
Should the U.S. fail to change its COOL policy, Canada will consider “retaliatory measures on U.S. agricultural and non-agricultural products if and as necessary,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a joint statement.
The list of products that could be hit with a 100 per cent surtax include:
- ketchup and other tomato-based sauces;
- processed, powdered and grated cheeses;
- fruits, such as apples and cherries;
- wine, including fortified wines;
- frozen orange juice;
- chocolate and other prepared foods containing cocoa;
- and maple syrup.
The ministers said they are “deeply disappointed” that the U.S. has so far been unwilling to change its COOL policy, and will be “watching this situation closely” to ensure U.S. authorities comply with the latest WTO ruling.
“The U.S. COOL policy hurts businesses and workers in both the U.S. and Canada. The Harper government will continue to stand up for our farmers, ranchers and workers to bring this harm to an end,” the ministers’ statement said.
Canada’s problems with the United States’ COOL policy, which was first brought in with the 2008 Farm Bill, have been before the WTO a handful of times. In June 2012, the WTO Appellate Body upheld a previous panel’s decision that the policy discriminates against Canadian and Mexican livestock and violates the United States’ WTO obligations.
The WTO gave the U.S. until May 23, 2013 to comply with the decision. On that date, the U.S. issued changes to its COOL guidelines. However, the Canadian government argued that the changes did not comply with the WTO ruling and so launched an appeal to a WTO compliance panel, which issued its ruling on Monday.
Should the federal government decide to go ahead with the tariffs, it would first have to receive permission from the WTO.