US Announces WTO Action Against India

US - US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said that the United States will initiate dispute settlement proceedings against India before the World Trade Organization (WTO) to challenge its longstanding prohibition on the import of US poultry.
calendar icon 7 March 2012
clock icon 5 minute read

For years, India has used a variety of non-tariff trade barriers to deny access US poultry to the Indian market. Although international health standards, in particular those of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), identify only highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza as warranting trade restrictions, India has long ignored those international norms and has banned poultry imports from the United States or any country that reports any incident of avian influenza, even cases of low pathogenicity.

USDA Agricutlure Secretary Tom Vilsack said: "Over the last few years, the United States has repeatedly asked India to justify its claim that a ban on poultry products from the United States is necessary. However, to date, India has not provided valid, scientifically-based justification for the import restrictions.

"This announcement by Ambassador Kirk that the US Government is seeking consultations with India under the dispute settlement provisions of the WTO demonstrates that the United States will help ensure that all of our trading partners play by the rules and uphold their WTO obligations.

"I am hopeful for a swift resolution that allows Indian consumers access to safe, high-quality US poultry and poultry products, and restores the economic opportunities our American farmers have earned."

This is a protectionist policy that is inconsistent with accepted international standards, and has no health or safety justification, says the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), National Chicken Council (NCC) and National Turkey Federation (NTF). This policy is particularly problematic in the case of the United States, which is the most efficient poultry producer in the world and the world’s leading exporter of poultry products.

Despite being one of the 23 founding countries of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), (an organisation founded in 1948 that has now become known as the WTO), India has done as little as any nation to open its border to trade or to abide by multilateral trade rules.

By conservative estimates, if India’s trade barriers were eliminated, the value of US poultry exports to India each year would surpass $300 million.

In response to the announcement, USAPEEC President Jim Sumner released the following statement: “In our view, India’s posture is thinly guised protectionism,” said USAPEEC President Jim Sumner. “The Indian economy is growing rapidly, as is its standard of living and its consumption of poultry. It is projected that India will soon be the world’s most populous country, and its people must have continued access to an ample supply of affordable protein.”

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown released the following statement: “US chicken companies and the farm families that grow chickens are committed to the responsible production of food that is safe, affordable and abundant for consumers in the United States and around the world. More than 100 countries recognise this fact and enjoy chicken imported from the United States.

"As the middle class in India continues to expand, and the market moves more toward commercial poultry, the United States should be afforded the opportunity to compete fairly with our products in this growing market. For far too long, India has been using this non-tariff trade barrier to prohibit US poultry.

“I want to express my gratitude on behalf NCC’s members to Ambassador Kirk and his team, and to Senators Coons and Isakson and Representatives Nunes and Carney, for their support in leading a large, bipartisan group of their colleagues in both the Senate and House in working to resolve these longstanding, non-scientifically-based Indian policies that prevent fair trade.”

National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger released the following statement: “On behalf of the turkey industry, we commend US Trade Representative Ron Kirk on the decision to seek formal consultation with the Indian government to resolve the ban on US poultry to India.

“India’s trade policies should conform to the scientifically based standards on avian influenza established by World Organization for Animal Health standards, as US turkey producers adhere to these globally recognised standards. The US turkey industry takes great pride in producing safe, nutritious and affordable foods for consumers around the world. Our industry looks forward to providing this affordable, nutrient-rich protein to India.”

Charlotte Johnson

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