This paper examines the Article 22.6 arbitration report of the WTO dispute over the United States’ country of original labeling (US-COOL) regulation for meat products. At prior phases of the legal process, a WTO Panel and the Appellate Body had sided with Canada and Mexico by finding that the US regulation had negatively affected their exports of livestock – cattle and hogs – to the US market. The arbitrators authorized Canada and Mexico to retaliate by over $1 billion against US exports; this is the second largest authorized retaliation on record and only the twelfth WTO dispute to reach the stage of an arbitration report. Our legal-economic analysis focuses on a number of issues that arise in the arbitration report. First, the complainants requested the arbitrators consider a new formula for computing the permissible retaliation limit that would also include the effects of domestic price suppression. We provide a simple, economics-based model explanation for the arbitrators’ rejection of such a proposal. Second, we provide market context for the $1 billion finding. While the arbitrators relied on the “trade effects” formula – which sets the retaliation limit as equivalent to the perceived loss of export revenue resulting from the WTO violation – we argue this amount to be implausibly large, given the actual conditions in the US market for cattle and hogs during this period. We then describe a number of the challenges facing arbitrators as they construct such estimates, including those likely to have arisen in this particular dispute.
Chad P. Bown & Rachel Brewster, US-COOL Retaliation: The WTO’s Article 22.6 Arbitration, World Trade Review (forthcoming)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
World Trade Organization, Foreign trade regulation, Dispute resolution (Law), Non-tariff trade barriers