Agri Business

For 11th time, WTO defers decision on India-US row over poultry ruling implementation

Amiti Sen | | Updated on: Apr 30, 2020

Decision now expected in July

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has deferred a decision by three months on an altercation between India and the US over the implementation of a panel’s orders on poultry imports by New Delhi as both countries have sought more time to sort out the matter.

“By requesting the arbitrator to keep delaying a decision on the issue, the US is continuing to hold India in suspense over whether it will finally withdraw the retaliation case despite New Delhi removing most restrictions on poultry imports,” an official told BusinessLine . Keeping India hanging on a matter that should have been resolved long back is probably an attempt by the US to hold some bargaining chips for the future to settle a related trade issue or a different one with India, the official added.

Case against India

“On April 17 2020, the arbitrator accepted the parties' 11th request to postpone issuance of its decision, and now expects to issue its decision in July 2020,” as per a notification issued by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.

India had lost a case at the WTO in 2015, filed by the US against restrictive avian influenza measures which prevented American poultry products to enter the Indian market.

The WTO agreed that the restrictions were not based on scientific validation and needed to be changed.

New Delhi made two rounds of changes in its rules on bird flu to bring it in line with the Dispute Settlement Body’s ruling, but the US was not satisfied and filed a case with the retaliatory panel seeking compensation worth $450 million.

Keeping in limbo

The US has not withdrawn the arbitration seeking compensation from India for not implementing the WTO ruling properly even after all decks were cleared for imports in 2018 when Washington exported its first consignment of chicken to the country.

Since then, the US has been showing willingness to engage with India on the matter and seeking postponement of a verdict by the arbitrator but has refused to end the matter by withdrawing the case.

Timelines for the report of a compliance panel on the case requested by India to decide on whether New Delhi complied with the WTO ruling has also been simultaneously postponed.

“The US may be unhappy that even after winning the WTO case, American companies have not been able to export large quantities of chicken to India. That is because import duties are high in the country, at 100 per cent, to protect domestic poultry farmers. But this is no reason for continuing a case which should have long been over,” the official said.

Published on April 30, 2020
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