India loses WTO dispute over bird flu curbs on US poultry

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Oct 15, 2014 02:17 IST

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday handed India a major setback ruling against its ban on US poultry products, calling it “inconsistent” with international norms and lacking scientific basis.

The ruling has the potential to significantly destabilise Indian poultry industry, and domestic producers fear they will be at grave risk against their better organised Americans rivals.

By US estimates American poultry produces are losing close to $300 million in annual business because of the ban India imposed seven year ago to check against avian influenza.

“India's Avian Influenza measures are inconsistent with (several articles)....of the SPS (sanitary and phyto-sanitary) Agreement because they are not based on the relevant international standard,” a WTO panel ruled in Geneva.

Indian officials said they will “study and review the ruling”, but the government they will be under pressure to appeal, or announce additional steps to protect domestic producers.

Poultry Federation of India Chairman JS Dhull said that the order would have a major impact on the domestic industry if the government does not take some other remedial measures like anti-dumping duty or increase in import duty.

The US was quick to welcome the ruling. “This is a major victory for American farmers,” said US trade representative Mike Froman in a statement.

“The WTO panel agreed with the US case that India lacks any scientific basis to restrict US agricultural products, including US poultry products.”

The US took the issue to WTO in 2012, challenging the ban.

“The United States, however, has not had an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) since 2004, while during that same interval India has had over 90 HPAI outbreaks,” the US said.

(with PTI inputs)

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