WTO opens doors for USA poultry exports to India
The Dollar Business Bureau | @TheDollarBiz
USA has won a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over India’s ban on imports of poultry products from USA after India failed to provide any scientific basis for the restrictions for around two years now. India had placed restrictions on imports of poultry products such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs from USA in February 2007 due to concerns over Bird Flu. However, USA complained to WTO on March 6, 2012 that the ban was unjustified. It claimed that no outbreak of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been recorded in USA since 2004, compared to 90 HPAI outbreaks recorded in India. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) had said, “India’s ban on U.S. poultry is clearly a case of disguising trade restrictions by invoking unjustified animal health concerns.” In a ruling this week, the WTO panel agreed with USA claims and said that India acted inconsistently with its WTO obligations (Sanitary and Phytosanitary or SPS Agreement) in this case. The poultry industry in USA, which directly employs over 350,000 workers and consists of nearly 50,000 family farms, has welcomed the ruling. “India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism,” said James Sumner, President, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and Michael Brown, President, National Chicken Council (NCC) in a joint statement. They added, “Our industry believes that free and fair trade – particularly with food – should never be used as a political bargaining chip. Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which USA has the ability to provide.”
USTR has said that it will work with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help poultry producers regain access to the Indian market which is growing at a rate of 8-10% annually (as per FAO estimates). USA is the world’s largest producer of poultry meat and the second largest exporter after Brazil. India is the world’s fifth largest poultry meat producer and is mostly self-sufficient, but USA’s poultry industry representatives estimate that demand for poultry meat is growing in India and that USA’s poultry exports to India could grow to over 2.6 million tonnes (worth $300 million of poultry meat alone) per year after restrictions are removed. USA’s poultry industry hopes that the WTO ruling will help the Indian government remove trade barriers. “We hope that the new Indian administration will be amenable to working with the U.S. government and industry to remove all restrictions and allow access for U.S. poultry in the near future,” Sumner and Brown said.
This article was published on October 16, 2014.