Canada has given Washington limited time to resolve trade concerns about new food labelling rules and may revive a WTO complaint if necessary, Trade Minister Stockwell Day said April 16.
Ottawa wants clarification from U.S. officials on how new country-of-origin labelling rules are being applied as it faces growing pressure from domestic hog and cattle producers who say the rules have curtailed their sales.
“We’re getting some indications that that does dissuade (U. S. buyers) from taking Canadian product so we’re pressing them hard, and I think we’ve shown that we have time limitations on how long we would let something like this draw out,” Day told reporters on a conference call from China.
Canada traditionally exports $4 billion a year of livestock to the U.S.
Interim mandatory labelling rules came into effect Sept. 30 and Canada filed a complaint against the United States for what it termed a protectionist policy.
In January, Canada suspended its complaint after the United States made what Day called a “strategic move” to make industry compliance with the new rules voluntary.
Day, sounding more aggressive than just a week earlier, kept the threat of WTO action alive. He pointed to Canada’s WTO complaint earlier this month against South Korea’s beef import policy.
“We’re letting the Americans know that we don’t mind a vigorous discussion but we will not wait indefinitely for the definition on what ‘voluntary’ means,” he said.
“We’re going to be aggressive on this.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture declined to comment on Day’s remarks.