Reps. Costa and Crawford prepare for WTO ruling on COOL rule
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), ranking member and chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit respectively, were joined recently by 110 members of Congress in sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman regarding the impending compliance ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule. Should the WTO rule against the United States, the members of Congress are requesting the Secretary of Agriculture rescind the final rule while Congress works to permanently resolve the issue.
“If the WTO finds the COOL rule to be non-compliant, the resulting consequences could have a detrimental impact on our economy,” said Rep. Costa.“Congress must be prepared to act and find a solution that maintains a healthy relationship with our trading partners and protects the American economy.”
The WTO is deciding on whether the current COOL rule is, in fact, non-compliant with U.S. trade obligations involving its two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. In the initial complaint brought against the United States by Canada and Mexico, the WTO determined the previous COOL rule was not compliant with WTO obligations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) then attempted to bring the rule into compliance in the final rule May 24, 2013, but Canada and Mexico charged that this rule was more restrictive and would cause further harm to their industries.
“This letter represents broad concern from across the country about the harmful effects that retaliatory tariffs would have on our economy,” said Rep. Crawford. “I appreciate the leadership of my colleague, Representative Costa, in joining me on this letter that is signed by well over one hundred of our fellow members of the House, expressing concern about the outcome of the WTO ruling. Should the ruling come back and find we are not in compliance, I will work closely with Rep. Costa and others so that we can ensure our country is not unduly burdened by these increased tariffs on American exports.”
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