WASHINGTON, May 12 (IANS): The United States has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to rule on its assertion that India's restrictions on imports of US poultry meat and chicken eggs violates its WTO obligations.
The US request to WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel was filed Monday after consultations with India on April 16-17, the first necessary step in pursuing a case, failed to resolve the US concerns, US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk said Friday.
Although India claims that its measures are designed for preventing avian influenza, Kirk said that its rules are inconsistent with the relevant science, international guidelines and the standards India has set for its own domestic industry, all contrary to WTO requirements.
"It is essential that US farmers obtain the reliable market access that India agreed to," said Kirk.
"The United States holds its agriculture industry to the highest standards of safety and is confident the WTO will agree that there is no justification for India's restrictions on US exports."
India asserts a right to impose import restrictions on countries that report outbreaks of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), the only kind of avian influenza found in the United States since 2004.
"India appears to have acted inconsistently with its obligations" under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures "by failing to base its measures on international guidelines or a valid risk assessment and by failing to ensure that its measures do not unfairly discriminate against imports from countries such as the United States," USTR said.
Kirk's move was welcomed by the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.
If India's trade barriers were eliminated, the industry said it estimates conservatively that the value of US poultry exports to India each year would surpass $300 million.