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US to Take on India at WTO Over Poultry Import Restrictions

by 5m Editor
28 June 2012, at 10:31am

INDIA & US - The US will formally fight India at the World Trade Organisation over import restrictions imposed by New Delhi on poultry products from countries reporting outbreak of low-intensity bird flu, hoping to grab the country's growing market for chicken legs.

According to The Economic Times, the dispute settlement body of the WTO on Monday accepted Washington's request for a dispute settlement panel on India's restriction on poultry which the US says is "unscientific".

"A number of countries including China, Ecuador, Colombia, EU, Japan, Canada, Guatemala, & Vietnam have reserved their third-party rights to follow the dispute," a WTO official told ET.

India had rejected US' attempt to establish a dispute panel last month on the ground that its restrictions were based on science and there was scope for more discussions between the two countries on the issue.

According to the US, the ban imposed by India on import of poultry products from countries' reporting outbreaks of low pathogenic notifiable avian influenza have no basis in science and was also not supported by World Organisation for Animal Health.

The US is keen to ensure predictable market conditions in India for its poultry exporters so that they can encash the big demand for chicken legs where they are hugely competitive, a government official told ET.

Although India lifted its ban on import of poultry products from the US after the country declared that it was free of avian influenza in September, but no exports have yet taken place as there is always a danger of outbreak of the low-intensity pathogens in some part of the country.

"Although the US will be able to sell chicken legs at almost a fourth of the prevailing market prices in India, no supplier would place orders till they are sure of the future," the official said.

The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council have said that if India's 'trade barriers' were eliminated, the value of US poultry exports to the country each year would surpass $ 300 million. India is also getting more studies done to strengthen its case that the ban is backed by scientific evidence of risk.