US Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that the US Government is requesting consultations with the Government of India under the dispute settlement provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning India’s prohibition on certain American agricultural exports, including poultry meat and chicken eggs.
In response US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement: “Over the last few years, the United States has repeatedly asked India to justify its claim that a ban on poultry products from the United States is necessary. However, to date, India has not provided valid, scientifically-based justification for the import restrictions.
“The announcement by Ambassador Kirk that the US Government is seeking consultations with India under the dispute settlement provisions of the WTO demonstrates that the United States will help ensure that all of our trading partners play by the rules and uphold their WTO obligations.
“I am hopeful for a swift resolution that allows Indian consumers access to safe, high-quality US poultry and poultry products, and restores the economic opportunities our American farmers have earned.”
The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), National Chicken Council (NCC) and National Turkey Federation (NTF) have also applauded the announcement by Kirk.
Despite being one of the 23 founding countries of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), (an organisation founded in 1948 that has now become known as the WTO), India has done as little as any nation to open its border to trade or to abide by multilateral trade rules. By conservative estimates, if India’s trade barriers were eliminated, the value of US poultry exports to India each year would surpass $300 million.
India has banned shipments of US farm products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs, since 2007 to prevent the spread of avian flu. According to some estimates, the Indian poultry market is expanding at an annual rate of between 8% to 10%, making it a market the US is keen to tap into.