News update:Oct 27, 2009

EU blocks US call for WTO poultry import ban investigation

The EU has blocked US efforts to have the World Trade Organization decide whether its ban on imports of US poultry break global trade rules, reports Bloomberg. The EU won't be able to prevent a second request.

The EU forbids a poultry cleaning technique called pathogen-reduction treatments, which is used in the US. 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. On 8 October, the US announced that it would ask WTO judges to rule on the case.

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

The European Commission states that 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 can’t block a second request, which typically comes a month later.

Source: Bloomberg

Natalie Berkhout

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