China, US Trade Dispute Gains WTO Attention

GLOBAL - The World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has considered a panel request by China on poultry. The request was blocked by the respondent, the United States. The matter will be discussed further on 31 July.
calendar icon 24 July 2009
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At the Dispute Settlement Body meeting on 20 July 2009, China introduced its request for a panel (WT/DS392/2) to examine US measures affecting poultry imports from China. China said that on 11 March 2009, the US President had signed the US Omnibus Appropriation Act of 2009 into law. China pointed out that Section 727 of the Act states that "none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to establish or implement a rule allowing poultry products to be imported into the United States from the People's Republic of China". This resulted in a complete ban on the import of poultry products from China into the US, China said, thus violating various WTO rules.

China stated that, since at least 2007, the US had entirely closed the door to China's poultry products through a number of annual omnibus appropriation acts and a series of related measures. China also said that the US Congress was currently in the process of formulating a new appropriation act and that certain Congress members were still insisting on inserting new discriminatory provisions to restrict imports of poultry products from China.

Consultations with the US were held on 15 May 2009 but failed to settle the dispute, hence China's request for the establishment of a panel.

The US expressed disappointment that China had chosen to proceed with a panel request. The US said that, in line with the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), the US permits imports of poultry products from all countries for which a determination of equivalence has been made. In this dispute, the US said, China challenged the way in which the US was responding to China's request for a determination of equivalence. The US said that its authorities were working together to ensure that the response to China's request for determination of equivalence was based on an objective, science-based consideration of all the relevant evidence in a way that was consistent with the agreements. According to the US, there was no basis for the claims made by China in its panel request.

The US also said that the measure identified by China would, by its terms, expire at the end of the current US fiscal year on 30 September 2009, and that a public debate was underway in the US Congress as to what conditions, if any, should be attached to the use of appropriated funds in the next fiscal year with respect to the import of poultry products from China. The US concluded by saying that it was not in a position to agree to the establishment of a panel at the present meeting.

After the conclusion of this DSB meeting, China requested a special meeting of the DSB to consider its panel request for a second time. A meeting has, therefore, been convened to take place on 31 July 2009.

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