Threat of retaliation looms for manufacturers in the United States

NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey testified on March 25 before a House Agriculture subcommittee on an imminent international trade risk to a broad range of manufacturers in the United States.

The hearing explored the implications of potential retaliatory measures taken against the United States in response to U.S. meat-labeling requirements that are out of compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. It is widely expected that the WTO will soon find—for the fourth time—that these U.S.-labeling requirements discriminate against imports from Canada and Mexico and will authorize both those countries to retaliate against billions of dollars of U.S. exports.

Dempsey testified on behalf of NAM members and as co-chair of the COOL Reform Coalition. Launched a year ago, the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Reform Coalition comprises companies and associations from across the U.S. economy advocating U.S. compliance with its WTO obligations. The coalition is urging action to avoid WTO-authorized retaliation on a wide variety of U.S. nonagricultural exports ranging from steel pipes and heating appliances to office furniture and mattresses.

“With the threat of retaliation looming for our nation’s manufacturers, we and the COOL Reform Coalition urge that Congress move quickly to eliminate these WTO-inconsistent provisions,” Dempsey told lawmakers.

Dempsey emphasized that the United States’ continued failure to bring the COOL rules for muscle cuts of meat into compliance with its WTO obligations is threatening U.S.-manufactured goods exports to our two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico, which together purchased a record $485 billion in manufactured goods in 2014.