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US loses WTO appeal in meat label dispute with Canada, Mexico

[WASHINGTON] The United States has lost a battle with Canada and Mexico over meat labeling and must now bring its laws into line with global rules, the World Trade Organization said on Monday.

The WTO panel rejected a US appeal against an earlier ruling that rules on country-of-origin labeling illegally discriminated against imported meat.

The move opens the door to trade sanctions against the United States, although US lawmakers have signaled they plan to repeal the rules requiring retailers such as grocery stores to list the country of origin on meat.

The US rules have resulted in fewer Canadian pig and cattle exports since 2009, according to the Canadian government. Canada has already published a hit-list of potential US targets, including wine, chocolate, ketchup and cereal.

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US Trade Representative Chief Counsel Tim Reif said the ruling was disappointing, although he noted the panel did not find the labeling requirements to be excessively restrictive. "We are considering all options going forward, and will continue to consult with members of Congress and interested members of the public regarding possible next steps," he said.