Coalition seeks suspension of COOL to avoid tariffsA coalition of businesses and agricultural associations has asked Congress to suspend part of the U.S. country-of-origin-labeling law in anticipation of a negative ruling by the World Trade Organization that could trigger retaliatory tariffs on certain commodities.

The 62-member coalition, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, includes the California Strawberry Commission, the California Walnut Commission and the North American Blueberry Council, all of which signed the letter.

Officials with the U.S. Chamber notified media that the WTO sent its unofficial ruling to Canadian, Mexican and U.S. officials on June 27. However, the ruling is not expected to be made public until it is officially released, which is expected in late July.

“We have received the interim report, but detailed review is necessary before commenting further,” an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture told Politico Pro magazine.

The specific part of the U.S. country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) law that Canada and Mexico have challenged covers labels on muscle cuts of meat, but its effect could cause changes to U.S. products and food.

Canada and Mexico raised concerns about the rule and the U.S. revised it in May 2013. The Canadian and Mexican governments said the revision is worse than the previous version.

In response to the revision, Canadian officials announced in July 2013 they would seek retaliatory tariffs against a wide variety of U.S. commodity exports, including cherries and apples, if the WTO determined the COOL rule is non-compliant with international trade rules.

The threatened tariffs could be imposed for the 2015 cherry and apple crops.