It isn't officially in place for a few more months, and unless you have been wrestling with implementation issues on the packing, distributing, or retail side, mandatory country of origin labeling (mCOOL) is still something that is just off there in the future somewhere. Its arrival has had very little impact domestically thus far.

Canada, however, is advancing the idea that the U.S. measure is costing its industry $1 million/day, and intends to challenge the law in the World Trade Organization and NAFTA. Of course, the $1 million/day figure is more for public relations purposes than anything else. Any challenge of mCOOL will likely take a very long time, and the resolution process rarely resolves anything anyway.

In the end, mCOOL will be allowed to stand, or the U.S. will end up paying renumerations back to the Canadian government for keeping it in place. Then, we’ll begin the process of tweaking. In the end, it could transpire much like the European Union’s ban on growth promotants; we keep complaining, they keep paying the punishment levies, and the process drags on and on.

In this case, the U.S. can use the conflict process to its advantage, but it does illustrate one reason that so many people have grown frustrated with so many of these trade agreements. If they aren’t enforceable, then what does it mean if they’re fair?

We’ve been experiencing similar things with Europe for decades, and the reopening of our borders following BSE was a much more difficult process than it ever should have been.