EU Ban on US Poultry Imports Challenged at WTO

GLOBAL - The US has challenged the European Union ban on poultry imports at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
calendar icon 19 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The US has lodged a complaint at the World Trade Organization against the European Union's decade-long ban on imports of American poultry, saying the policy violates global trade rules, according to Bloomberg.

US chicken and turkey can be rinsed with chlorine, which is forbidden in the 27-nation EU. European agriculture ministers decided in December 2008 to maintain the ban, spurning an attempt by EU regulators to change the rules that outlaw the use of chlorine in poultry-cleaning products.

EU Industry Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, asked the ministers to allow US poultry that included a guarantee it had been rinsed with water. Most farm chiefs, including Germany's Ilse Aigner and France's Michel Barnier, rejected the proposal. US officials see the ban as a test case on lifting EU trade and other regulatory barriers.

"We regret the US decision to resort to WTO dispute settlement on this issue," Peter Power, the European Commission's trade spokesman, wrote from Brussels. "We will carefully study the US claims and will engage in consultations in good faith."

Mr Power denied that the EU bans poultry imports from the US. "We apply our regulatory measures to both domestic and imported goods alike," he said.

The US practice of treating chicken carcasses "has just led to an increase in the number of contaminated chickens," Brussels-based farmers lobby COPA-Cogeca said in May. Decontamination at the end of production "creates many doubts, in particular concerning the creation of resistances to antibiotics and other antimicrobial substances."

Chicken exports to the EU from producers including Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and Sanderson Farms Inc. might be worth about $200 million if all trade barriers were lifted, Richard Lobb, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a Washington-based lobby group, said in May 2008, reports Bloomberg.

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