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India’s Ban on Imports of U.S. Agricultural Products Again Struck Down by WTO

Monday, June 08, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The World Trade Organization Appellate Body has affirmed that a ban India imposed in 2007 on imports of various U.S. agricultural products, including poultry meat, eggs and live pigs, is in violation of WTO rules. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that if India responds to the 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 the U.S. argued that (a) the most common type of avian influenza outbreak in the U.S. (low pathogenic) does not warrant import prohibitions and (b) even the outbreaks of high pathogenic avian influenza the U.S. has suffered in recent months do not justify a ban on imports from the entire U.S. and should be limited to where the outbreaks occur.

According to a USTR press release, the Appellate Body upheld the dispute settlement panel’s findings 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 or a risk assessment that takes into account available scientific evidence, arbitrarily discriminates against imports, is more trade restrictive than necessary, fails to recognize the concept of disease-free areas and is not adapted to the characteristics of the areas from which products originate and to which they are destined.

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