While the actual pain may be one or two years away, Canada has threatened retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports of apples and cherries over a dispute with the U.S. over the Country of Origin Labeling law.

“If we get down the line where it is actually implemented, it could be a huge problem,” said Mark Powers, vice president of international trade and transportation for the Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, Wash.

In a statement June 7, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz released a list of U.S. commodities that could be subject to retaliatory tariffs if the dispute over U.S. country of origin labeling regulations on meat products is not resolved.

Canadian officials claim the COOL labels encourage U.S. packers to import less Canadian livestock.

The list included fresh apples and cherries from the produce world, in addition to many meat products, orange juice, office furniture and other items.

“Our government is extremely disappointed that the United States continues to uphold this protectionist policy, which the WTO has ruled to be unfair, and we call on the United States to abide by the WTO ruling,” the officials said in a statement.

Powers said it is likely to be one to two years before the WTO authorizes the retaliatory tariffs, assuming Canada moves forward with its intentions.

Also unknown is how high the retaliatory tariff would be, whether 5% or 50%, Powers said.

“We don’t want to be on the retaliatory list; it’s not our issue,” he said.

Canada could also revise the list in future months, Powers said.

While the U.S. has recently revised its country of origin regulations, Canada is not satisfied that the revisions meet WTO obligations, Powers said.

“There is no immediate impact, and hopefully the two countries and the WTO will figure it out,” he said June 12.