WTO Rejects India’s Prohibition of US Poultry Imports

The announcement by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on October 14 that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against India in its ban on US poultry imports has been commended by the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC).

WTO logo enIndia placed a ban on US poultry products in 2007, supposedly to prevent low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), but produced no scientific evidence to support the ban’s validity. In response, USTR initiated consultations in 2012, refuting India’s claims that LPAI will mutate into a highly pathogenic form of the virus.

“India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism,” said USAPEEC President James Sumner and National Chicken Council President Michael Brown in a joint statement. “This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on US poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).”

usapeeclogoThey continued: “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 the US has the ability to provide,” said Sumner and Brown.

The ruling does not give the US automatic access to India’s market, which is estimated to consume approximately 2.6 million metric tons of US poultry annually, and is growing at a rate of eight to ten percent per year.

“We recognize that work remains to be done to open India’s market – but this ruling is an important step toward securing that objective. We hope that the new Indian administration will be amenable to working with the US government and industry to remove all restrictions and allow access for US poultry in the near future,” Sumner and Brown concluded.