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Ambassador Ron Kirk

United States Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk



American poultry industry associations recently appreciated the actions by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against India before the World Trade Organization to challenge that country’s ban on the import of US poultry.

In a letter to Bradford Ward, Assistant US Trade Representative, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation said, “For much too long the Government of India has arbitrarily and blatantly prohibited the importation of poultry from the United States.”

Along with submitting the supportive comments in a letter, the organizations enclosed letters to Ambassador Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative, from 47 members of the US House of Representatives and 19 US Senators. The letters (pdf copies uploaded) urged USTR to take the necessary WTO dispute settlement action against India.

Without mincing words, the organizations called for tougher steps to reach a “very successful outcome of the WTO proceedings for this case,” cautioning, “if bilateral consultations with India fail to resolve the issues and, therefore, do not permit US poultry trade with India, USTR is strongly urged to have the WTO promptly initiate the next step in the dispute settlement process.”

Michael Brown, President, National Chicken Council; James Summer, President, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and Joel Brandenberger, President, National Turkey Federation, in the joint letter said, “India’s ongoing excuse regarding US poultry possibly transmitting avian influenza to India’s poultry flocks is a clearly and obviously a bogus non-tariff trade barrier.”

“The United States has not experienced a highly-pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in commercial poultry since the early 1980s, whereas India continually experiences such outbreaks,” alleged the three presidents.

“With India’s rapidly expanding middle class of consumers who increasingly desire to devote more of their discretionary income for animal protein products, it is time for the US poultry to be able to participate in this rapidly developing market,” said the organizational heads.

The National Chicken Council noted that by conservative estimates, if “market access permitted the free and fair trade,” the value of US poultry exports to India each year would surpass $300 million.

Earlier the US had announced its decision to request consultations with India under the dispute settlement provisions of the WTO concerning India’s prohibition on certain American agricultural exports, including poultry meat and chicken eggs.

India claims that this trade ban is aimed at preventing avian influenza, but it has not provided scientific evidence in line with international standards on avian-influenza control, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in his remarks.

The USTR action in March came within a week of US President Barack Obama creating the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, which was designed to target the unfair trade practices of countries like China.

According to US officials in Washington, the creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center confirmed the Obama Administration’s position not to simply stand by while its trading partners unfairly disadvantaged American products globally.

For more than five years, India has prohibited imports of various agricultural products from the US, as a precautionary measure to prevent outbreaks of avian influenza in the country.

Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process and parties are encouraged to agree to a solution at this stage. If the matter is not resolved through consultations, the US may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel, according to an official US statement. (IATNS)

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