Mexico says it may suspend U.S. trade preferences over meat labels


Mexico's Economy Ministry said on Friday it was considering suspending preferential trade tariffs with the United States for a variety of products in a simmering dispute over meat labeling.

The disagreement stems from a 2009 U.S. requirement that retail outlets specify the country of origin on labels on meat and other products in an effort to give consumers more information about the safety and origin of their food.

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Canada and Mexico have complained to the World Trade Organization that the COOL (country-of-origin labeling) rules discriminated against imported livestock.

The trade body ordered the United States to comply with WTO rules by May 23, but the U.S. government made revisions that Canada and Mexico say would only make the situation worse.

Mexico and Canada are seeking the WTO's support in their case and the Mexican Economy Ministry said if the U.S. government is found to be in the wrong, Mexico would react.

For this reason, the ministry said in a statement it was considering suspending preferential tariffs for a broad variety of produce including fruit and vegetables, juice, meat, dairy products, machinery, furniture, household goods, among others. (Reporting by Dave Graham and Adriana Barrera; Editing by Eric Walsh)