WTO will hear U.S. poultry case against India

WTO will hear U.S. poultry case against India

INDIA failed to persuade the World Trade Organization to dismiss a trade complaint involving poultry brought by the U.S., according to a preliminary ruling WTO published July 8.

In March 2012, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative launched the WTO legal challenge to India's restrictions on imports of poultry, pork and other products, calling them a "disguised" illegal restriction on foreign trade and not backed by science.

India told WTO that it justified its poultry import restrictions because the U.S. has avian influenza.

India tried to have the U.S. complaint dismissed on technical objections, including that the allegation was not precise enough and did not spell out the legal argument.

However, according to the preliminary ruling, WTO adjudicators dismissed India's technical arguments, explaining that, "under the circumstances, there can be no uncertainty on India's part at this state of the proceedings" as to which specific rules the U.S. was challenging.

This situation leaves the original U.S. complaint intact, with a ruling likely later this year, the National Chicken Council (NCC) reported.

The case moved to the dispute panel settlement stage earlier this year after bilateral talks between India and the U.S. failed to resolve the problem. WTO established a panel in February 2013 to directly rule on the U.S. claims. In March, India filed its current request regarding the technical flaws of the complaint.

NCC said WTO's latest decision strengthens the hand of the new head of USTR, Michael Froman, who told Reuters last month that growing trade problems with India would be a major early focus of his tenure.

On July 12, Froman met with Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in Washington, D.C., during which Froman "underscored the importance of avoiding policies that disadvantage foreign goods and services," a statement from USTR said.

"We recognize India's need and right to feed its people, but just as in the case of manufacturing policies, we think there are more and less trade-distortive ways to achieve that objective," Froman said in a July 11 speech to the U.S.-India Business Council at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We are certainly willing to work with India to address its legitimate food security needs, but we underscore the importance of doing so in a way that minimizes the distortion of global trade."

Volume:85 Issue:29

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