WTO rules against India’s blocking of US poultry

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute panel has ruled that India broke WTO rules by blocking imports of US poultry and other farm products because of unsubstantiated bird flu fears. The ruling has the potential of opening up an estimated $300 million a year export market for the United States.

India had claimed its import restrictions, imposed in 2007, were justified by international rules on animal health, but the panel agreed with the United States and found that India’s measures were not based on international standards and were discriminatory.

The ruling could increase imports of poultry and eggs from the United States, although India could still try to restrict them using other measures such as anti-dumping duties if US exporters tried to sell their products at unfairly cheap prices. Otherwise, India is bound to provide fair market access to other countries under the WTO rules.

The United States vies with Brazil as the world’s largest exporter of broiler (chicken) meat. India’s broiler consumption is rising rapidly as its residents increase their protein intake. USDA forecasts consumption in 2014 at 3.7 million tonnes, up 40 percent from as recently as 2010.

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