Canada retaliation on U.S. labels may go beyond beef, pork

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Canadian retaliation against the United States for its country- of-origin meat-labeling rules may target more products than U.S. beef and pork, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Thursday.

The U.S. meat-labeling rules have led to a sharp reduction in U.S. imports of Canadian and Mexican livestock, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ordered the United States to make changes to the rules by May 23.

The United States last month proposed stricter rules for labeling meat, but its proposal quickly drew criticism from the Canadian government.

Canada is now considering retaliatory measures against U.S. exports worth up to C$1 billion ($990 million).

"I see retaliatory measures going beyond simply beef and pork," Ritz said on a conference call from Mexico, where he met with Mexican government officials.

He said Mexico seemed willing to join Canada in taking retaliatory measures, but that it should speak for itself.

Going through WTO channels to impose retaliatory measures against the United States could take 1-1/2 to two years, Ritz said.

In Washington, U.S. pork producers expressed concern about the potential retaliation and urged the labeling rules be revamped to better conform with WTO rules.

"Retaliatory tariffs on pork by Canada or Mexico would be financially devastating to U.S. pork producers," Randy Spronk, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a statement.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)



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