Facing threat of tariffs from Canada, U.S. Congress set to vote on disputed law

WASHINGTON — The United States Congress could take a big step back tonight from a potential trade war with Canada.

A law at the heart of a cross-border dispute faces a key vote in the House of Representatives and, if it’s adopted there as expected, it would face a final test in the Senate.

The legislation would repeal a requirement for country-of-origin labels for meat, mandatory grocery stickers explaining where livestock was born, raised and slaughtered.

Label defenders say consumers deserve to know where their meat comes from, while opponents say it’s just protectionism, complicating imports without any food-safety or inspection benefits.

The World Trade Organization sided with Canada and Mexico against the labelling and Canada has applied to impose US$3 billion in retaliatory tariffs on a range of American products.

Congress is now weighing the repeal, to avoid tariffs that could kick in as early as this year on products like U.S. wine, meat, chocolate and frozen orange juice.

The Canadian Press