India to Explain Reasons for Import Ban on US Poultry

INDIA - India on Friday said it will explain to the US the reasons behind its decision to put import restrictions on certain poultry products, as Washington has dragged the country to the WTO on the issue.
calendar icon 12 March 2012
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On 6 March, the US dragged India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against New Delhi's ban on imports of certain American poultry products, including meat and eggs. The US has called the ban as "unjustified" health-safety worries.

"We will have consultations (with the US). Department of Animal Husbandry will explain to them why we have imposed those restrictions," Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters.

Since February 2007, India has banned imports of various agricultural products (or poultry products) from the US, as a precautionary measure to prevent outbreaks of avian influenza in the country.

However, the US has argued that India has not provided scientific evidence in line with international standards on avian-influenza control.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said that India's ban on US poultry is clearly a case of disguising trade restrictions by invoking unjustified animal health concerns.

"The US is the world's leader in agricultural safety and we are confident that the WTO will confirm that India's ban is unjustified," he has said.

Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process and parties are encouraged to agree to a solution at this stage.

If the matter is not resolved through consultations, the US may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel, The Economic Times reports.

"Over the last few years, the US has repeatedly asked India to justify its claim that a ban on products from the US is necessary. To date, India has not provided valid, scientifically-based justification for the import restrictions," USTR has alleged.

According to the sources in the Agriculture Ministry, to safeguard the interest of Indian farmers, the government has imposed an import duty of 104 per cent on poultry items from America.

India's domestic poultry market size is estimated at more than Rs 4.7 billion.

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