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US consults WTO on Indian poultry access

US poultry organisations have encouraged US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to begin consultations with the government of India in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for India's longstanding prohibition on the import of US poultry.

Despite being one of the 23 founding countries of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, which became the WTO) in 1947, India has done as little as any nation to open its border to trade or to abide by multilateral trade rules, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC) said in a statement.

India has used a variety of excuses and has erected trade barriers over many decades to deny access to US poultry. Primarily, since 2006 India has had a ban on poultry imports from any country that has reported any incident of avian influenza, irrespective of its pathogenicity. This protectionist posture is inconsistent with accepted international standards, and has no health or safety justification. While international protocols such as those adopted by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), as well as the health rules of most countries engaged in international trade, clearly distinguish between low-pathogenic AI and highly pathogenic AI, India makes no such distinction, the organisations reported.

“In our view, India’s posture is thinly guised protectionism,” said USAPEEC President Jim Sumner. “The Indian economy is growing rapidly, as is its standard of living and its consumption of poultry. It is projected that India will soon be the world’s most populous country, and its people must have continued access to an ample supply of affordable protein.”

“US broiler chicken companies and the farm families that grow broiler chickens are committed to the responsible production of food that is safe, affordable and abundant for consumers in the US and around the world,” said NCC President Mike Brown. “As the middle class in India continues to expand, and the market moves more toward commercial poultry, the US should be afforded the opportunity to compete fairly with our products in this growing market.”

We believe that if India were to open its market and to apply international rules fairly, our industry could compete effectively, the US poultry orgs continued. The current Indian market for poultry is about 2.6 million metric tons annually, and is growing at 8-10% per year. The USAPEEC and NCC estimate that if trade with India were liberalised, annual US poultry exports could exceed $300 million.

The USAPEEC  and NCC have formally requested that USTR and USDA engage in consultations with India under article XXIII of the GATT and to initiate dispute settlement if India does not bring its import regime into compliance with international rules and standards.

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Editor WorldPoultry


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    Dr Devendra Verma

    Ever since the world population touched the 7 billion mark, the debate has gained momentum about how this growing population would put unprecedented pressure on already scare resources. The blame of populating the world and causing the global crisis is being shifted back to the developing nations and citizens of developing countries like India! But then, the controversial question is - is the earth really not ready for 7 billion people and is nature really stretched for generating resources for all? Are the citizens of developing nations consuming more and is the population expansion in these countries the real reason behind the growing resource crunch?

    According to the US Department of Agriculture, 2007 total food grain consumption of an average American is more than 5 times that of an Indian (per capita Indian consumption of food grain is 178 kg per year, while it is 1,046 kg for an American). A Stockholm International reports states that US alone wastes around 30 per cent of food and water that can fulfill the needs of around 500 million people.

    FAO report in 2002 stated that across the globe, "agriculture produces 17 per cent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, which is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day". It takes 10 children in India to match the consumption rate of just 1 child in United States! This is the very reason why today, the number of overweight and obese people outnumbers that of malnourished. According to UNDP, US also leads the way in terms of average water use per person per day (over 550 litres per capita per day).

    The per capita greenhouse gas emissions per year in US is 23.5 tonnes while that in India the figure is merely 1.7 tonnes per capita. On a regional level, America emits 7 times more greenhouse gases than what Asia emits, and 10 times more than what Sub Saharan Africa emits! And this is despite the fact that America�s population is one-fourth that of India�s.

    Indian poultry industry in itself is capable enough to fuel its population's poultry consumption and need not be dependent on USA's self-vested interest.

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    Verma, perhaps you should work for an Indian company and serve India rather than getting paid by an UK company owned by an US company!

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    Dr. Devendra Verma

    Wellwisher, thanks for your comments. Data on which you have based your comments is not true. I am not associated with any UK/US company. Check your market intelligence before mentioning such comments!

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    How it is possible for US poultry farmers or companies to compete with Indian broiler Industry, because in India, the prevailing per kg live bird sale rate is around INR 27 ($0.51)at farmers doorstep.
    Secondly, India is self sufficient in feeding its own population and export huge surplus food amount to many countries since many years.

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    Contract Farmer's Welfare Association

    In India already the economic status of farmers involved in broiler rearing is very poor.If US chicken entered the Indian market the situation will become even worse.No one can save them...

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    Dr Verma
    Thanks for providing the datas how US smashed the the world economy, Even though Poultry Industry is upcoming in India now a days and 90% rural employment oriented and at least this through money flowing to villages,all this will spoil by entering US chicken once again thanks by Karnataka Rajya raita sangha and Poultry peoples of India to make awareness about US conspiracy
    Dr Srinivas
    Pragathi Hatcheries

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    USA has moved for an interpretation by WTO within the trade convention agreement. They are defining their economic interest within a globalized world. India should go further to see beyond this aim and close the loose ends before clauses in international treaties are evoked to strangulate their poultry industry. The developing countries are good at signing international treaties without seeing the hidden Agenda. It is high time for india to equally evaluate area of comperative advantage and seek for interpretation for competititive advantage.

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    I am sorry, my Indian fellows.
    But once a country accepts the terms of engaging the WTO, it should respect it unconditionally.
    It is not other countries' fault whether the local farmers cannot produce chicken meat at a competitive price.
    If US or any other nation holds a recognized (OIE) sanitary status to export its meat, India as a WTO participant should not create any kind of barrier to its importation.
    By doing that, it only avoids creating a competitive environment for its local chicken producers, and eventually Indian people will pay for that.
    Finally, it is not in question whether a country is self sufficient or not when it comes to meat supply. Self sufficiency is not a valid argument to create protectionism before WTO.

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