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Import of US chicken legs won’t harm Indian market: Suresh Prabhu

Prabhu confirmed that talks were progressing between India and the United States on the issue. He said in 2016, the WTO had ruled against India’s import restrictions on poultry and poultry products citing Avian influenza, on grounds that it was inconsistent with the National Treatment Principle under GATT.

pune Updated: Feb 20, 2018 16:22 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Suresh Prabhu said,National Treatment Principle
The import of frozen chicken legs from the United States won’t adversely affect the Indian poultry industry, Union commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said in an interview on Monday. (HT PHOTO)

The import of frozen chicken legs from the United States won’t adversely affect the Indian poultry industry, Union commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said in an interview on Monday.

“The import of US poultry products has not found any favour in the Indian market. It is unlikely to undermine the domestic market. These are frozen products which are likely to reach a small segment of the domestic marketplace and this may not be more than 5%. We in the commerce ministry are committed to ensure fair trade which creates win-win for our local industry,” Prabhu said.

The minister was responding telephonically when asked about the concerns expressed by poultry experts here on the lifting of restrictions for the import of frozen chicken legs from the US.

Prabhu confirmed that talks were progressing between India and the United States on the issue. He said in 2016, the WTO had ruled against India’s import restrictions on poultry and poultry products citing Avian influenza, on grounds that it was inconsistent with the National Treatment Principle under GATT. Accordingly, India was expected to issue the notification of compliance.

Poultry experts here said that in keeping with this, the department for animal husbandry and fisheries had modified the health certification requirement for imported poultry products from the US, which could now pave the way for the import of frozen chicken legs.

Maharashtra agriculture minister Pandurang Phundkar also maintained that the import of US poultry products won’t harm the domestic industry.

Contrary to these assurances from the government, some poultry industry experts expressed the fear that the Indian poultry business could be hit by 25% due to the imports.

“Cheaper American chicken legs will definitely hit the local business by 25%.This will not only affect poultry but also maize and soybean growers as almost 40% of maize and soybean is used as feed by the industry, Vasant Kumar Shetty, convenor of the All India Broiler Coordination Committee, said.

He said the production cost of the US poultry industry was much lower because of genetically modified (GM) maize and soybean.

Shetty said that while the government was allowing import of US chicken legs, it was not promoting the export of boneless chicken from India which have a high demand in the US.

Poultry experts from Baramati Agro said that chicken legs did not have a market in the US and could, therefore, can be easily dumped in India at rock bottom prices. “The American market prefers boneless chicken and chicken legs are a waste,” an expert said.

PG Pedgaonkar, deputy general manager at Venkateshwara Hatcheries Private Ltd, said the chicken legs import could have an adverse impact on the processing industry like theirs. “Most Indians prefers fresh chicken from the roadside. It is early to predict the impact, we have to wait and watch,” he said.

About a decade ago, India had restricted entry of chicken legs from the US on the grounds of bird flu outbreak. Now however, the government had made changes to the health certification requirement for imported poultry items from the US.

Fourth-largest chicken producer

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India is the fourth-largest chicken producer after China, Brazil and USA. As per 2016 data, the per capita eggs consumption had gone up from 30 to 68 and chicken from 400 gm to 2.5 kg.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 16:17 IST