Senator Pat Roberts Urges Trump Administration to Scrap Reconsideration of COOL: Country of Origin Labeling
Mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) rules for beef products have long been the subject of controversy and challenge, culminating in: (1) a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the COOL requirements violate U.S. trade obligations to Canada and Mexico and (2) Congress repealing COOL as of December 21, 2015. Against this backdrop, the Trump administration is gearing up to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with COOL reportedly being a key element of a model trade agreement.
On March 14, 2017, speaking at the confirmation hearing of Robert Lighthizer to be U.S. Trade Representative, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, warned against any reconsideration of country-of-origin labeling (COOL). Sen. Roberts explained, “We fixed the issue of COOL in 2015. We don’t need to go down that road again. We narrowly escaped about $4 billion … in retaliatory tariffs against the United States. I do not think we need a constantly changing list of key elements of a model trade agreement … what we need is a U.S. Trade Representative confirmed … and in place who will embark on a robust trade policy.”
It remains to be seen whether the new administration will seek to advance COOL as part of its apparently imminent renegotiation of NAFTA.