On Tuesday U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk requested consultations with India under the dispute settlement provisions of the World Trade Organization. The heart of the matter is India's trade ban prohibiting the import of poultry or chicken eggs from the United States. They say prevention of avian-influenza is the reason for the ban, but the U.S. says they have not provided scientific evidence on avian-influenza control that are in line with international standards.
"Last week President Obama created the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, demonstrating that the United States simply will not stand by while our trading partners unfairly disadvantage American farmers, workers and businesses," said Ambassador Kirk. "As we have shown through the creation of this new unit, and the Obama Administration's strong record of enforcing trade agreements and WTO commitments, we will continue to insist that all of our trading partners around the world play by the rules and uphold their WTO obligations."
The request for consultations is the first step in the settlement process of the WTO in which countries try to reach an agreement on the dispute. Should the consultations fail to resolve the issue, the U.S. may ask for a WTO dispute settlement panel to be established.
"India's ban on U.S. poultry is clearly a case of disguising trade restrictions by invoking unjustified animal health concerns," Kirk said. "The United States is the world's leader in agricultural safety and we are confident that the WTO will confirm that India's ban is unjustified. Opening India's market to American farmers will promote jobs here at home, while also providing Indian consumers with access to high quality, safe U.S. products."
Following the USTR announcement, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that this request demonstrates that the United States wants to ensure that all of our trading partners play by the rules and uphold their WTO obligations.
"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," Vilsack said. "I am hopeful for a swift resolution that allows Indian consumers access to safe, high-quality U.S. poultry and poultry products, and restores the economic opportunities our American farmers have earned."
International standards do not support import bans due to detections of low pathogenic avian-influenza, the only kind of AI that has been found in the U.S. in the past eight years.