The World Trade Organization has found in favor of the U.S. in a trade dispute challenging India's ban on various American ag products, including poultry meat, eggs and live pigs, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said Tuesday.
The panel agreed with the United States that India's seven-year ban breached numerous international trade rules, including because it was imposed without sufficient scientific evidence. India instigated the ban to allegedly protect against avian influenza.
In the seven years of the ban, the United States has not had an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza since 2004, while during that same interval India has had over 90 HPAI outbreaks, the USTR said. The only other type of avian influenza detected in the United States since 2004 is low pathogenic avian influenza – an often symptomless disease that the United States can find.
The United States initiated this dispute by requesting consultations with India on March 6, 2012. After consultations proved unsuccessful in resolving U.S. concerns, the WTO established a panel at the U.S. request to hear U.S. claims that India's avian influenza restrictions are inconsistent with India's WTO obligations.
"India's ban was thinly veiled protectionism," said USA Poultry & Egg Export Council President James Sumner and National Chicken Council President Michael Brown in a joint statement. "This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on U.S. poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)."
U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman called the panel decision a "major victory" for American farmers.
"Our farmers produce the finest – and safest – agricultural products in the world," he said. "This is the fourth major WTO victory the U.S. has announced this year as we continue to unlock economic opportunity for our workers, farmers, and businesses."
Previous trade disputes that ultimately ended in favor of the U.S. this year include WTO's finding that China was wrongfully imposing extra duties on American cars and SUVs; Another rule breach by China for imposing extra duties on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum, which are key manufacturing inputs; and in August, a WTO panel agreed with the United States that Argentina's import licensing requirement and other import restrictions breach international trade rules.
Under WTO rules, either party may request adoption of the panel report on India's SPS breach by the WTO within 60 days of the release of the report, and the report would be adopted unless an appeal is filed.
If the report is appealed, WTO rules provide that the WTO Appellate Body must issue its report within 90 days of the filing of the appeal.
According to Indian media outlets, officials there have indicated they will review the ruling, but will be under pressure to announce steps that protect domestic producers or file an appeal.