June 11, 2015
Country of Origin Labels repealed in US by WTO
By Mark Wachtler
June 11, 2015. Washington. (ONN) America may not be perfect. But when it comes to the food we feed our families everyday, US grown, raised and inspected products are overwhelmingly sought after by US consumers. But thanks to past global trade deals, the American people can no longer require labels showing the country the food in their grocery stores comes from. Yesterday, the US House voted to repeal the popular law requiring country of origin labels at the demand of Mexico, Canada and the World Trade Organization.
Seems like only yesterday that the American people rioted against the World Trade Organization in the famed Battle in Seattle.
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Goodbye country of origin labels
Yesterday, the US House voted 300-131 to repeal the law requiring country of origin labels on meat products sold in America. Republicans overwhelmingly supported the Bill 234-10. While one-third of House Democrats defected and joined the GOP for a Democrat vote of 66-121. View the full roll call vote to see how your Representative voted. The above vote is a good indication of how a similar vote will turn out for ‘Fast Track’ trade authority and the infamous and secret TPP and TTIP global trade deals currently under debate.
The panicked and immediate vote by House Republicans was in response to the United States losing its final appeal before the World Trade Organization a day earlier. The WTO ruled that mandating country of origin labels on products sold in the United States discriminated against foreign made goods. That’s because American consumers have always shown that when given the choice, they will choose US grown and raised food products over those from other countries whose safety and inspection standards are suspect or unknown.
The American people also overwhelmingly support the required labels, which is why the law was originally passed in 2002 and again in 2008. Unfortunately for them, the United States is at the mercy of the WTO thanks to numerous global trade agreements, some dating back to the 1990’s and NAFTA and GATT.
Canada and Mexico threaten Trade War against US
If Congress hadn’t repealed the country of origin labeling law, Canada and Mexico threatened to launch a trade war against the United States. The initial salvo against the American people by its neighbors was to include $1 billion in additional trade tariffs on US made products sold in Mexico and Canada. Additionally, the WTO had threatened its own sanctions on the US if the law was not repealed.
One example of support for the repeal came from the Detroit News, whose editorial staff fearfully begged Congress to repeal the labeling law. They wrote, ‘How does this impact northern Michigan? Every year, our state exports over $1.2 billion in agricultural products to Canada. Canada has released a list of specific items it will be targeting, including apples, cherries, maple syrup, items containing iron and stainless steel, and office furniture. This means cherries grown in Traverse City, apples grown in Charlevoix, and iron ore from the Upper Peninsula will be negatively impacted. Any business on the list would be immediately subject to high tariffs, and could expect to see their exports drop.’
Similarly, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) also vocally supported repeal of the labeling law. The industry trade group for multi-national agri-giants quoted US Rep Jim Costa (D-CA) praising the repeal, “California exports billions of dollars of commodities and manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, many of which are produced in the San Joaquin Valley. The tariff retaliations will cost California more than $1 billion, inflicting a devastating blow to the state’s economic well-being.”
Opposing the labeling repeal
While Washington-Wall Street leaders scramble to repeal a law most Americans support because of threats by Canada, Mexico and the WTO, others were not so quick to surrender America’s sovereignty. The nation’s most trusted source for product safety and reliability – Consumer Reports – stood strong in its opposition to the country of origin labeling repeal even in the face of trade war threats.
‘It was a major consumer victory in 2008 when Congress made country-of-origin labeling the law of the land after concern about the safety of some imported food,’ Consumer Reports wrote regarding the current labeling repeal effort, ‘But now that the United States signed up to various global trade agreements, the WTO ruled that the US must get rid of the labels or pay penalties to Canada and Mexico. But Congress and American consumers don’t have to give in to what the WTO or the meat and poultry processors want! Congress is hearing from big-money lobbyists, not consumers who actually use the labels. So join us and make your voice heard by telling your Congressional Representatives to vote no on the repeal of country-of-origin labeling.’
Let the Trade War begin
We at Whiteout Press were curious what would happen if a full blown trade war broke out with the United States pitted against Mexico and Canada. What we discovered is that America would win the war, easily. First, if Mexico and Canada ceased all trade with the US, America would see an explosion of new jobs, wealth, factories and businesses – a reversal of the effects of NAFTA.
The fact is, the US runs a trade deficit with both countries. That means the US buys more from them than they buy from us. According to the US Trade Representative, the US buys $332 billion worth of imports from Canada each year while selling only $300 billion in exports to them. A report from the Congressional Research Service similarly shows that the US buys $294 billion in imports from Mexico. While Mexico only buys $240 billion in American products and services.
And let’s not forget that Canadian pipelines cross America to deliver Canadian oil and gas to the Gulf of Mexico at no charge. And Mexican delivery trucks use American highways to get to Canada without the legally required driver’s licenses and without paying for their upkeep and constant repaving.
Perhaps the biggest fact that most Canadians and Mexicans conveniently forget – the United States spends $1 trillion per year on the defense of the North American continent. If Canada and Mexico want to each spend $300 billion of their own money each year to defend their own counties, they’re welcome to. Perhaps Canada and Mexico should keep in mind just how much money the American people spend on them before they threaten the United States with a trade war.
Unfortunately, as we’ve seen this week, it doesn’t matter anyway. America’s own political leaders sold out the American people to the World Trade Organization and its world government a long time ago.’