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EU Blocks WTO Talks on Ban on US Chicken - For Now

by 5m Editor
26 October 2009, at 11:51am

GLOBAL - The EU is reported to have blocked the US call for the World Trade Organization (WTO) to investigate the EU ban on imports of US chicken.

The European Union blocked US efforts to have the WTO decide whether its ban on imports of American poultry break global trade rules. Bloomberg reports that the EU will not be able to prevent a second request, likely next month, however.

Chicken and turkey from the US are processed using a sanitation technique called 'pathogen-reduction treatments', which is forbidden in the EU. The US lodged a complaint against the ban in January, saying no scientific evidence backs up the EU argument that the use of the treatments poses a health risk, and announced on 8 October that it would ask WTO judges to rule on the case.

The EU halted imports of US poultry products in April 1997, according to Bloomberg. Annual shipments of chicken and poultry to the 27-nation EU from US producers such as Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and Sanderson Farms Inc. would top $300 million if the bloc lifted its ban, according to the National Chicken Council.

Brussels-based European Commission, which oversees food and trade policy in the EU, says it applies the same rules to domestic and imported poultry and denies it discriminates against the US. If WTO judges back the Obama administration, the EU will have to end the ban or face retaliation on its products.

Under the WTO's dispute rules, the EU can fend off the first US request to set up a panel of judges to rule on the complaint. It cannot block a second request, which typically comes a month later, concludes the Bloomberg report.