WTO rules against India in poultry dispute

Goal is victory will signal to other WTO members restrictions on avian flu must be based on science.

The World Trade Organization's (WTO) Appellate Body rejected India's appeal of its ban on U.S. poultry imports.

India placed a ban on U.S. poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs in 2007 under the guise of preventing low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), but produced no scientific evidence to support the ban's validity. In response, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) initiated consultations in 2012, refuting India's claims that LPAI will mutate into a highly pathogenic form of the virus.

The WTO panel and Appellate Body overwhelmingly agreed with U.S. claims that, for example, India's ban is not based on international standards or a risk assessment; India discriminates against U.S. products in favor of Indian products; India's measures are more trade restrictive than necessary because it is safe to import U.S. products meeting international standards; and India's restrictions are not adapted to the characteristics of U.S. exporting regions.  

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman welcomed this win “which will help us eliminate unjustified trade barriers so U.S. farmers can sell high quality U.S. agricultural products to customers around the world.”

In a joint statement from the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC), the groups said the announcements affirms what they’ve claimed – that “India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism.” The groups said they hoped the ruling would send a signal other countries that have placed similar bans on U.S. poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
USAPEEC and NCC estimate that if India complies with the ruling, U.S. poultry could see a market valued at $300 million open up.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack echoed that sentiment and noted that the decision affirms the importance of basing agricultural trade requirements on sound science.  "This is a major win for U.S. agriculture and, in particular, the U.S poultry industry," he said.   "Today, America's poultry producers are being challenged again by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, and this decision serves to encourage USDA's efforts to maintain open markets for U.S. poultry based on international standards."

Vilsack added that a “rules-based international trading system is critical to allow U.S. farmers and ranchers to compete on a level playing field worldwide.”

Since 2009, 19 enforcement actions have been brought forward in the WTO by the U.S. and every single one decided thus far has been in favor of the United States.

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