India Says Ban on US Poultry Products Lifted in September 2011

INDIA - Reacting to the US government approaching the global trade body, WTO, against India imposing a ban on US agricultural products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs, the government clarified that it had already revoked the ban on imports from the US last September when it was declared free of avian influenza, a government official said.
calendar icon 21 May 2012
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"We already removed the ban on poultry and poultry products imports from the US in September last year as it was declared free of avian influenza. But we do carry out tests to ensure that the items that are imported meet international safety standards and we are ready to defend these at the WTO," a government official told The Economic Times.

The US' request on the matter will be taken up by the dispute settlement body of the WTO when it meets in Geneva on 24 May.

New Delhi will try to defend its interpretation and application of provisions on restricting trade of poultry products and other farm goods as specified by the World Organisation for Animal Health or OIE (formerly the Office International des Epizooties) that has been challenged by the US and termed as too restrictive.

The US poultry industry, which has identified India as a big market for chicken eggs - a product that doesn't find much favour with the Americans - estimated that its exports could be as much as $300 million every year if restrictive standards are removed. Right now, US exports of processed poultry products to India are negligible as these can't meet India's 'conformity assessment' norms.

India had clarified to the US that import restrictions on poultry products were applicable only for countries reporting Notifiable Avian Influenza (NAI) which includes both low pathogens and high pathogens during its consultations in Geneva last month.

The US, however, differed with India regarding the applicability of provisions of OIE relating to restrictions on trade., and also expressed concern on the lack of sufficient scientific justification in India's risk assessment and consequential restrictions on trade in other products.

"The US' commercial interest in India is huge, no doubt. I think it is seeking much more than just a simple lifting of import ban. It wants the WTO to declare that the safety standards being followed by India are much more than what is laid down by the OIE, so that market access becomes easier," a WTO expert from a Delhi-based trade research organisation told ET.

India claims that its risk assessment procedure is purely scientific and is based on OIE standards, but the US contends that it goes much beyond what the OIE lays down.

"If the WTO dispute panel agrees with the US, India may have to revise its standards. But if India can prove that its standards are purely backed by science as it claims, then the US can't do anything about it," the expert added.

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