WTO upholds ruling in favor of U.S. against India's poultry bans

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 4, 2015-- The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body announced today that it supports the United States in a trade dispute challenging India's ban on various U.S. agricultural products, particularly poultry.  

For nearly eight years, India has claimed it needs to restrict certain U.S. agricultural products, including poultry meat, eggs and live pigs, supposedly to prevent entry of avian influenza into India. However, the Appellate Body and a previous WTO panel agreed with U.S. claims that: India's ban is not based on international standards or a risk assessment, India discriminates against U.S. products in favor of Indian products, India's measures are more trade restrictive than necessary, and India's restrictions are not adapted to the characteristics of U.S. exporting regions. 

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The WTO panel originally established to hear U.S. claims that India's restrictions are inconsistent with WTO rules circulated a report in October 2014 that found India breached its obligations under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The Appellate Body announced today that it upheld the panel's findings.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the decision “is a major win for U.S. agriculture and, in particular, the U.S poultry industry.”

Vilsack noted that U.S. poultry producers are being challenged now by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), and the WTO decision encourage USDA's efforts to maintain open markets for U.S. poultry based on international standards. “A rules-based international trading system is critical to allow U.S. farmers and ranchers to compete on a level playing field worldwide,” he said.

In announcing the WTO ruling, the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office referred to the HPAI infections, but said, “even these outbreaks do not justify a ban on imports from the entire United States, and should be limited to only where the outbreaks occur.”

According to USTR, the WTO victory signals to other WTO members that they must ensure that any avian influenza restrictions they impose are grounded in science, such as by taking into account the limited geographic impact of the outbreaks, and are not simply a disguise for protectionism. 

The U.S. poultry industry estimates that its exports of poultry meat to India could exceed $300 million per year once India's restrictions are removed - and are likely to grow substantially in the future as India's demand for high quality protein increases.

“I welcome this win, which will help us eliminate unjustified trade barriers so U.S. farmers can sell high quality U.S. agricultural products to customers around the world,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in an announcement.

The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC) issued a joint statement today that the WTO announcement “affirms what we've said all along - India's ban was thinly veiled protectionism.”

The organizations added that, “Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which the U.S. has the ability to provide.” 

 

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