President-elect Donald Trump has said reshaping America’s trade policies will be one of the top priorities for his administration. A memo drafted by his transition team obtained by CNN appears to lay out the skeleton of Trump’s trade policy for the first 200 days of his presidency, including the withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and possibly reinstating country-of-origin labeling (COOL).
First implemented in 2009 and then repealed last year, the COOL program required that retail outlets label food according to its origin. Canada and Mexico challenged that rule as an unfair trade restriction to the World Trade Organization, which ruled in their favor.
Under WTO rules, the U.S. could have faced retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico had the COOL regulations not been repealed. However, Trump’s trade policies may not adhere to past agreements.
The document obtained by CNN says, “The Trump trade plan breaks with the globalist wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The Trump administration will reverse decades of conciliatory trade policy. New trade agreements will be negotiated that provide for the interests of US workers and companies first."
Support for reinstating COOL was voiced this week from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in a conference call. Thune, re-elected to his third term, told reporters he would like to see COOL brought back, especially in light of struggling U.S. cattle markets.
Renewed COOL discussions in the U.S. has alarmed Canadian cattlemen. They say they will urge their lawmakers in Ottawa to retaliate against the U.S. if the Trump administration imposes COOL, regulations they see as discriminatory.
Last year the WTO authorized Canada to retaliate against the U.S. over COOL, setting the annual level at $1.06 billion.
Should the Trump administration move forward with implementing COOL, it could pit farm-state lawmakers against one another. For instance, one of the champions for repealing COOL last year was Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. In a news release last year, Roberts’ office claimed he has opposed mandatory COOL from its inception.