Document Type


Publication Date



WTO, dispute, arbitration, retaliation, regulation, nontariff barrier, remedies


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.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

World Trade Organization, Foreign trade regulation, Dispute resolution (Law), Non-tariff trade barriers