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O Canada! Mexico at the Cry of War! The Country-of-Origin Labeling War

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by Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation

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Meat Label
(Image by Joel D. Joseph)
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Why do our neighbors treat us so badly? We gave them NAFTA, which helps both Canada and Mexico at the expense of the United States. To date, we have lost more than one million jobs to Canada and Mexico because of NAFTA.

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"O Canada" is the Canadian national anthem. "Cry of War" is the Mexican national anthem. As US citizens, we should be crying war and yelling "O Canada and Mexico, why do you cheat us like you do?"

Yet Canada and Mexico have challenged our innocuous Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Act that merely requires that meat and produce must be marked with their country of origin. A biased panel of the World Trade Organization (chaired by a Mexican national) has ruled that COOL was a non-tariff barrier to trade. This caused the House of Representatives to panic and amend the Country-of-Origin Labeling Act so that it requires only produce labeling.

But what about the real tariff barriers to trade enacted by our northern neighbor?

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According to Canada's leading newspaper, the Globe and Mail, the Canadian federal government imposes tariffs that run between 200 percent and 300 percent on virtually all dairy imports including milk, cheese and ice cream. Incredibly, we can't ship Vermont's Ben & Jerry's ice cream or Vermont's excellent cheddar cheese, milk or butter across the border because it would triple the cost.

Historically, a brewery in Canada had to have a brewing facility in each province where it wished to distribute beer. This was an effective way for provinces to get and keep brewery jobs within their respective jurisdictions as well as boosting revenues from taxes on beer produced and sold in the province. These policies are slowly changing, but because of them Budweiser is brewed in Canada, while we import Molsons, Moosehead and Labatt beers from Canada. This is a non-tariff barrier to trade, much more serious than our country-of-origin labeling.

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Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation, economist and lawyer, author of ten books and hundreds of articles.

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