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WTO Rules in Favour of US over Indian Ban on US Poultry Imports

15 October 2014

US & INDIA - A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled in favour of the US in a case following a ban by India in 2007 aimed at preventing imports of US chicken into the country on the grounds of preventing avian influenza.

On 14 October 2014, the WTO issued the panel report in the case brought by the United States about “India – Measures concerning the importation of certain agricultural products” (DS430).

The case goes back to March 2012, when the US requested consultations with India with respect to the prohibitions imposed by India on the importation of various agricultural products from the United States purportedly because of concerns related to avian influenza (AI).

The measures at issue are: the Indian Livestock Importation Act, 1898 (9 of 1898) ("Livestock Act"); a number of orders issued by India's Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries pursuant to the Livestock Act, most recently S.O. 1663(E); as well as any amendments, related measures, or implementing measures.

The United States complained that India's AI measures amounted to an import prohibition that was not based on the relevant international standard (the OIE Terrestrial Code) or on a scientific risk assessment. In particular, the United States requested the Panel to find that India's AI measures were inconsistent with a number of provisions of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement.

Finally, the WTO panel found that India's AI measures are inconsistent with the provisions of the SPS Agreement and found it unnecessary to rule on the United States' claim under Article XI of the GATT 1994 (general elimination of quantitative restrictions).

Times of India described the WTO decision as 'a big setback'.

India will likely see a surge of American chicken legs after losing the case, warned Economic Times.

United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman, commented: “This is a major victory for American farmers. The WTO panel agreed with the US case that India lacks any scientific basis to restrict US agricultural products, including US poultry products. Our farmers produce the finest – and safest – agricultural products in the world.

US Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said: “Our farmers and producers deserve a level playing field – and this dispute reflects that we will accept nothing less. I am pleased that the WTO Panel determined that India’s ban on poultry is inconsistent with its commitments under the WTO SPS Agreement. USDA will work in close partnership with USTR to ensure that US poultry producers and processors have access to this important market.”

In a joint statement, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) President James Sumner and National Chicken Council President Michael Brown said: “India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism. This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on US poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

“Our industry believes that free and fair trade – particularly with food – should never be used as a political bargaining chip. Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which the US has the ability to provide. We thank former USTR Ron Kirk for initiating the complaint against India, and (current) Ambassador Michael Froman for continuing to pursue the case for a favourable outcome.”

Today’s ruling does not give the US automatic access to India’s market, which is estimated to be approximately 2.6 million metric tons of US poultry annually, and is growing at a rate of eight to 10 per cent per year.

Mr Summer and Mr Brown concluded: “We recognise that work remains to open India’s market – but this ruling is an important step toward securing that objective. We hope that the new Indian administration will be amenable to working with the US government and industry to remove all restrictions and allow access for US poultry in the near future.”

ThePoultrySite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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