The United States has blocked a request by Canada and Mexico for relief from U.S. Country of Origin Labeling laws which the two countries claim are hurting their meat exports. The request from the two U.S. neighbors had been made recently to the World Trade Organization.

The request from Canada and Mexico is expected to go forward to the next meeting of the WTO's dispute settlement body when the United States cannot block them again, according to a Reuters report. That meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19.

Both Canada and Mexico told the WTO's dispute settlement body that U.S. COOL rules -- requiring meat sold in U.S. stores to show which country it comes from -- were damaging North American trade.

"COOL is discouraging U.S. retailers, processors, feedlots and producers from buying Canadian livestock and meat,” Canada said in a statement “The negative impact on Canadian beef, pork and cattle exporters has been significant.” Canada normally exports about C$4 billion of pigs and cattle to the United States.

Canada says that it and the United States are each other's biggest agricultural trading partners, with two-way farm trade in 2008 totaling $37 billion. Mexico also said its exporters were suffering lower prices and uncertainty because of the COOL rules.

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Source: Reuters