The WTO filed its panel report on the case earlier this week (14 October), in what has been a long-running trade dispute. It found that India’s avian influenza measures were inconsistent with several articles of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement.
The ruling has been commended by the USA Poultry & Egg Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC).
The US had requested consultations with the government of India in March 2012, concerning restrictions posed on various agricultural products from countries reporting Notifiable Avian Influenza to the World Health Organisation (OIE). The ban was put in place in 2007.
These consultations were unsuccessful in resolving the dispute, so on 11 May 2012 the US requested the establishment of a panel by the Dispute Settlement Body, which was set up in June of that year.
The products prohibited included: domestic and wild birds (including poultry), day-old chicks, ducks, turkeys and other newly hatched avian species, unprocessed meat and meat products from avian species and live pigs.
The US claimed that India’s measures adversely affected exports of these, and other, products, and appeared to be inconsistent with a large number of the provisions of the WTO agreement.
It also complained that India’s AI measures – namely the Livestock Importation Act 1898 (9 of 1898) and Statutory Order 1663(E), issued by India’s Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, were not based on the relevant international standard – the OIE Terrestrial Code – on a scientific risk assessment. However, India argued that its measures did conform to the standard.
The panel report recommended that the Dispute Settlement Body request that India bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the SPS Agreement.
"India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism," said James Sumner, president, USAPEEC, and Michael Brown, president of the NCC, in a joint statement.
"This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on US poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)."
While the ruling does not give the US automatic access to the Indian market, it is an important step in securing that objective, said the two organisations.
"We hope that the new Indian administration will be amenable to working with the US government and industry to remove all restrictions and allow access for US poultry in the near future."
The full panel report is available here: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/430r_e.pdf