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India’s Ban on Imports of U.S. Agricultural Products Violates Trade Rules, WTO Says

Thursday, October 16, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel has ruled against a ban India imposed in 2007 on imports of various U.S. agricultural products, including poultry meat, eggs and live pigs. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that if India responds to the panel decision by lifting its ban, U.S. exports to India of poultry meat alone could exceed $300 million a year “and are likely to grow substantially in the future as India’s demand for high quality protein increases.”

India said its ban was meant to protect against avian influenza, but USTR points out that the U.S. has not had an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza since 2004, during which time India had over 90 HPAI outbreaks. According to a USTR press release, the WTO panel concluded that the ban breached India’s obligations under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures because it:

- is not based on international standards (India had claimed the ban was in conformity with the World Organization for Animal Health’s Terrestrial Code) or a risk assessment that takes into account available scientific evidence;

- arbitrarily discriminates against imports;

- constitutes a disguised restriction on international trade;

- is more trade restrictive than necessary;

- fails to recognize the concept of disease-free areas (press sources said this is the first time a WTO panel has ruled on Article 6 of the SPS Agreement, which an Inside US Trade article states “generally requires members to adapt their rules and regulations to regional conditions in the exporting party”); and

- was not properly notified in a manner that would allow the U.S. and other WTO members to comment on it before it went into effect.

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