OTTAWA, June 7, 2013 (AFP) – Canada threatened Friday to slap duties on a litany of US goods including tomato ketchup, bed mattresses and swivel seats in a labels spat with its main trading partner.
Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a statement he would seek WTO approval for the retaliatory measures against the United States, which could take up to 18-24 months.
The dispute stems from a mandatory labeling requirement unveiled by the United States in 2009, aimed at providing consumers with more information about the safety and origin of their food.
Canada fought the so-called COOL (country-of-origin labeling) rule at the WTO saying it discriminated against Canadian products, and won. The WTO gave the United States until May 23 to comply with its rules.
But instead Washington merely tweaked the regulation.
“Despite consistent rulings by the World Trade Organization, the US government continues its unfair trade practices, which are severely damaging to Canadian industry and jobs,” Fast said in a statement.
“We are preparing to launch the next phase of the WTO dispute settlement process on the new US rule, which we had hoped to avoid by the United States living up to its trade obligations,” he said.
In addition to pigs and cattle, and meats that were the original focus of Canadian concerns, Ottawa said it may also target US cheeses, apples, cherries, corn, rice, chocolate, pasta, potatoes, jewellery and wooden office furniture.
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