Agri Business

Bird flu row with US: India asks WTO to set up panel

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018

Ruffling feathers If India further lifts import restrictions on poultry, it may hit the local industry significantly. A file photo of the Ghazipur Murga Mandi in New Delhi

WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body will consider New Delhi’s request today

Running out of patience with Washington for continuing to challenge its revised guidelines on avian influenza (bird flu), New Delhi has asked the dispute settlement body of the World Trade Organisation to set up a compliance panel.

The panel would take a call on whether India’s new rules are compatible with existing multilateral norms and dispute panel recommendations.

“As India has brought its revised avian influenza measures into conformity with WTO obligations, prompt findings by the DSB (Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO) will assist the parties in securing a positive solution to the dispute,” India said in its representation to the DSB, which is scheduled to take up the matter in its meeting on Wednesday.

“Even after making so many changes to make the US comfortable with the provisions, it has still refused to take back its authorisation request to impose a retaliatory fine of $450 million annually on India. We now want the WTO to handle the matter,” a Commerce Ministry official told BusinessLine.

India had lost a case at the WTO in 2015 filed by the US against restrictions that prevented the American industry from selling poultry products, including chicken legs, in its market.

As per the old rules, India would stop importing poultry from the entire country when there was the slightest outbreak of bird flu in any part, however remote, and even if the virus was of low-strain.



New measures

India made changes in its bird flu measures to make them compliant with the WTO ruling in July last year. It also made additional changes after the US raised some more concerns.

In February 2017, it made further changes in its notification to remove inadvertent errors that had crept into the definition of “pest-or disease-free areas and areas of low pest or disease prevalence”.

Under the revised rules, India gave recognition to the concept of disease-free areas and areas of low pest or disease prevalence.

This means that supply of poultry could continue from a disease free area of a country even if the disease was prevalent in another area of that country. Moreover, areas of low pest or disease are also not be treated on par with high pest regions.

The import restrictions on poultry lifted by India could open the doors for cheap chicken legs from America and hit the local industry significantly.

According to industry estimates, the US could potentially take away 40 per cent of the market of domestic breeders who produce 3.5 million tonne of chicken annually.

Published on April 18, 2017

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