16 Jun 2015

NZ industry backs US meat labelling move

3:08 pm on 16 June 2015

The meat industry here is hoping the United States will dump its law requiring compulsory country of origin labelling for meat imports.

The House of Representatives has voted to repeal the law, in response to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling that country of origin requirements for beef, chicken, pork and some other products discriminates against imports.

Canada and Mexico are proposing retaliatory trade penalties against the US after winning their WTO case.

The US Congress also needs to repeal the law for the compulsory labelling to be scrapped.

New Zealand Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said it hoped that would happen, because it had been a bone of contention for exporters supplying our largest beef market since it was imposed in 2009.

"As a country we're normally pretty proud to have our name out there on the product and clearly would use that wherever it is practicable but sometimes, in terms of hamburger meat in the US, that might comprise product from many origins, so the size of the label gets extraordinarily big and defeats the whole purpose of country of origin labelling," he said.

"As a country, we support multi-lateral trading systems and compliance with the WTO trade rules, and that's all about providing a level playing field for global trade, so anything that's not compliant with the WTO we would seek to support its removal."

Mr Ritchie said it was hard to put a definitive cost on the labelling requirement but there were hidden costs which had an impact on processes and compliance measures.

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