Canada keeps WTO option open on U.S. meat rules

Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:43pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada stands ready to revive a trade complaint against the United States should Washington reinstate country-of-origin meat labeling rules that Ottawa considers protectionist, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Tuesday.

"Should the Obama administration continue on with protectionism and country-of-origin labeling, we will then reignite our WTO (World Trade Organization) challenge," Ritz told reporters on a conference call.

Canada agreed to shelve its WTO complaint last month after the government of George W. Bush revised U.S. rules to allow greater flexibility on labeling of meat sold in U.S. grocery stores. Ritz said the complaint remains off the shelf as "the Obama administration goes back and makes sure that the Bush administration didn't leave any landmines in any of these deals."

(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson)