Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



United States Moving Towards Country of Origin Labeling on Fuel

Representative Bruce Braley, D- Iowa has sponsored HR 4512 in the United States House of Representatives, legislation that ultimately requires country of origin labelling on fuel.

Section 3 of the "Country-of-Origin Labeling for Fuels Act" requires a that the Secretary of Energy in consultation with the EPA conduct a study to (i) determine appropriate methods and standards for requiring that motor vehicle suppliers disclose country of origin information with respect to motor vehicle fuel to the next person in the motor vehicle fuel supply chain and motor vehicle retailers disclose such information to consumers, and (2) make recommendations with respect to the most feasible and cost-effective country of origin information disclosure requirements.

Section 4 requires that the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the EPA, shall prescribe regulations requiring disclosure of country of origin by motor vehicle fuel suppliers and motor vehicle fuel retailers in accordance with the recommendations in their report.

Section 5 establishes a civil penalty at $10,000.

This proposed law's purpose is to inform buyers of the origin of the fuel so that domestic purchasing decisions can be made --- this is protectionism.  This is the first "Buy America" legislation of 2010.

Rep Bruce Braley does not appear to bet aware of the country of origin labeling dispute filed by Canada with the World Trade Organization against the United States in respect of meat products. Country of origin labeling requirements relating to fuel can have not other reason other than pure protectionism. There is no argument relating to consumer protection as fuel is fuel regardless of its source.

In addition, the legislation targets Canada as (1) the number one supplier of fuel to the United States and (2) a supplier of ethanol (where is Braley from again --- yes - IOWA -- corn is used to make ethanol). This is a blatant protectionism directed at Canada and intended to disourage companiues from buying Canadian corn-based fuels in favour of corn-based products from Iowa.

The United States Trade Representative is not asked to provide input in the proposed law. If he was, he would have to communicate that country of origin labeling of fuel is not permitted by NAFTA Article 311 and Annex 311. These NAFTA violations would be in addition to the GATT Article III violations.

 

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