WTO rules against India in case of poultry-imports from US

Based on the dispute settlement panel recommendations, the WTO appellate body enforced India to allow imports from Avian Influenza-free regions of the US, putting aside India’s wish over non-importing of US poultry.

By Sai Nikesh D

The World Trade Organization, on Thursday, ruled against India over ‘India denying importing of various agricultural products, especially the poultry, from the United States citing concerns related to Avian Influenza (AI)’.

Based on the proceedings over the issue that dates back to March 6, 2012 when the ‘US requested consultations with India with respect to (w.r.t) the prohibitions imposed by India related to AI’, the WTO appellate body concluded that ‘India’s AI measures amounted to an import prohibition that was not based on the relevant international standard or a scientific risk assessment,’ as recommended by the dispute settlement panel.

It also concluded that based on the panel recommendations w.r.t the international Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement, the body was unable to complete the legal analysis and assess the consistency of India’s AI measures in case of import prohibitions on fresh meat of poultry and eggs from countries reporting Low Pathogenicity AI (LPNAI).

The appellate body has upheld the panel recommendations which said, ‘India’s AI measures are inconsistent to the suggestions under SPS Agreement that mandates SPS measures to be on account of risk assessment based on scientific evidence, production methods, sampling and testing methods, prevalence of specific diseases or pests, among others.’

It also ruled out India’s claims on the panel saying, ‘India has not established that the Panel acted inconsistently with its duty to conduct an objective assessment of the matter pursuant under SPS agreement’.

On the whole, endorsing the panel’s findings that ‘India’s AI measures violate Article 6 of SPS Agreement (which suggests exporting members claiming to have disease-free areas in their region shall provide necessary evidence to the importing members to get their products imported) in order to prohibit all imports from any country that has notified AI to World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the appellate body thus enforced the possibility of allowing imports from AI-free areas within such countries into India.

Sources from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said, “It’s a judgment by the apex trade body that has been taken after considering inputs from both the member countries involved in the dispute and there is nothing much to comment on this separately,” adding, “India has been given 12-18 months period to implement this ruling.”

This move comes as a failure to India which has been making efforts to stop imports of poultry from the US and India was given January 26, 2015, as a last date for appeal against the imports of US poultry.

India, with an annual production of chicken to around 3.5 to 4.0 million tonnes, is the fourth largest in the poultry sector after the US, China and Brazil. If the imports of the US poultry are allowed, then the Indian domestic poultry sector may have to face price challenges.

Besides this, the major concerns are about the spread of avian flu or Bird Flu and over a similar concern, the Chinese government had also banned all imports of US poultry and egg products effectively from January 8, 2015, after the Highly Pathogenic avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in some parts of USA.

 

This article was published in The Dollar Business on June 05, 2015

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