WASHINGTON — The Canadian government isn't satisfied by the latest step taken by U.S. lawmakers to avoid a continental trade war.
The government said a bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate falls short of what would be required to avoid tariffs on American products.
Canada and Mexico are poised to impose such tariffs following a string of victories at the World Trade Organization, with Canada specifically seeking WTO permission to impose duties of $3 billion on a range of American products including wine and frozen orange juice.
The dispute revolves around rules that require meat sold in the U.S. to be labelled by country of origin, which the WTO has declared invalid.
The subsequent threat of retaliation prompted one chamber of U.S. Congress, the House, to pass a bill repealing the labelling rule.
A bill introduced today in the Senate doesn't go quite that far; it proposes a voluntary system where producers could label meat by where it was born, raised and slaughtered.
The Canadian government says that's still discriminatory, and wouldn't deter it from seeking to impose tariffs.
The bill will now be debated in the Senate, where it could undergo some amendments.
Meanwhile, the tariff request is still before the WTO and Canada says the penalties could be imposed within months.
The meat-labelling dispute pitted proponents of labelling, who said consumers deserve to know where their meat comes from, against opponents including big players in the livestock industry who railed against it as a protectionist measure did nothing to enhance food inspection while simply making it more difficult to import and sort imported meats.
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