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NFTC Blog Post: “Stabenow Voluntary COOL Proposal”
Date: 7/13/2015
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, (202) 822-9491

Washington DC–Today, in a blog post, titled "Stabenow Voluntary COOL Proposal," Gideon Gross of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), wrote:

"... With the Senate taking up COOL, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has proposed a voluntary labeling system instead of the outright repeal proposed in H.R. 2393. Her proposal unfortunately continues to pose the risk of retaliatory tariffs being implemented by Canada and Mexico, the potential costs of which could be as much as $3.2 billion. Senator Stabenow proposes a COOL regime with a voluntary system in which companies can opt in or out, but the U.S. statutes for COOL which define "made in America" would remain in place. While this proposal seems like an appealing solution, it carries risk for U.S. businesses for a number of reasons.

"As a result of the WTO ruling, Mexico and Canada are permitted to impose retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. as soon as mid-August. If the U.S. enacts the Stabenow proposal and Mexico and Canada deem it noncompliant with WTO rules, they could impose retaliation. If the U.S. appealed their actions, it would take as long as two years for the appeal to wind its way through the WTO Dispute Settlement Body with U.S. companies having to cope with the retaliation throughout the period.

"Supporters of COOL have been quick to point out that both Canada and Mexico use a voluntary system of country of origin labeling. They argue if the U.S. were to implement a system similar to theirs, it could avoid retaliatory tariffs. The risk in this assumption lies in the details of the U.S. COOL statute, including transportation clauses, which differ from both the Canadian and Mexican statutes. ...

"...Ultimately, the goals of the U.S. should be to comply with WTO rules and obligations and avoid any sanctions that could hurt U.S. businesses. Repealing COOL before the August deadline is the best way to achieve those objectives. Subsequently creating a voluntary program with Mexican and Canadian input would allow businesses to simultaneously differentiate their products on the global market, avoid potential losses from retaliatory tariffs and maintain a labeling regime that can give consumers information on the products they are buying. The Stabenow proposal points us in that direction, but does not fully do the job."

Read the full blog post here.


About the NFTC
Serving America's Global Businesses Since 1914 - The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules- based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
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