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  July 9th, 2015 | Written by

WTO Overturns India’s Restrictions on U.S. Poultry Imports

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  • India claimed ban on poultry, eggs, and live pigs was to protect India against avian influenza.
  • U.S. Trade Rep: Avian influenza restrictions must be grounded in science.
  • U.S. exported poultry meat, and eggs worth $6.5 billion to 136 countries in 2014.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body has agreed with a previous panel report, handing the U.S a major victory in a dispute challenging India’s ban on poultry products and other various U.S. agricultural exports.

The original report found that India’s ban on products such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs was maintained to protect India against avian influenza.

The WTO panel and Appellate Body agreed with U.S. claims that India’s ban “is not based on international standards or a risk assessment” and the country “discriminates against U.S. products in favor of Indian products.”

It also found that 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 released a statement saying, “This victory will help address barriers to the Indian market for U.S. farmers, including those in the U.S. poultry industry in particular, and also signals to other WTO members that they must ensure that any avian influenza restrictions they impose are grounded in science, such as by taking into account the limited geographic impact from outbreaks, and are not simply a disguise for protectionism.”

For nearly eight years, the Indian government had said that restrictions on imports of various U.S. agricultural products, including poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs, were in place to prevent the entry of avian influenza into the country – a charge vehemently denied by the U.S.

India’s Restrictions “Are Not Based on International Standards”

The WTO panel found that India’s restrictions on U.S. agricultural imports “are not based on international standards or a risk assessment that takes into account available scientific evidence and arbitrarily discriminate against U.S. products because India blocks imports while not similarly blocking domestic products.”

It also ruled that India’s restrictions “are more trade restrictive than necessary since [the country] could reasonably adopt international standards for the control of avian influenza instead of imposing an import ban; and fail to recognize the concept of disease-free areas and are not adapted to the characteristics of the areas from which products originate and to which they are destined.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that U.S. exports to India of poultry alone could exceed $300 million a year once India’s restrictions are removed – “and are likely to grow substantially in the future as India’s demand for high-quality protein increases.”

According to the agency, the U.S. exports 20 percent of its poultry and that U.S. exports to over 136 countries in 2014 of poultry meat, and eggs were worth $6.5 billion.