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WTO Will Rule On India Revised Restrictions On US Poultry
- 15 Feb, 2019
A World Trade Organization panel will decide by the end of June whether India has successfully changed its import rules for U.S. poultry to line up with an earlier decision faulting the rules as discriminatory, according to a WTO document published Tuesday.
India was faulted by both a WTO dispute panel and the Appellate Body for its effective ban on U.S. chicken following scattered outbreaks of avian influenza. The adjudicators said New Delhi had been too blunt in shutting out all U.S. products rather than tailoring its restrictions to high-risk areas.
The decisions prompted India to alter its laws in 2016. But the U.S. government said its products were still being discriminated against and called for another panel to rule on whether India had complied. After several delays, the so-called compliance panel said Tuesday that it would issue its decision sometime in the first half of the year.
“The panel now wishes to inform the [Dispute Settlement Body] that the parties have again jointly requested the panel to delay the issuance of its report,” the panel wrote. “The panel has accepted the parties' request, and accordingly now expects to issue its final report by the end of June 2019.”
While it can still be appealed by either party, the compliance panel’s decision is still significant given the U.S.'s request to retaliate against India for its failure to comply with the initial decision. The U.S. has requested to impose retaliatory tariffs covering $450 million worth of Indian goods annually, but the final level will be decided in a separate arbitration process by April.
If the compliance panel rules that India has actually brought its import rules in line with the WTO’s recommendations, it would render the U.S. retaliation bid moot, pending a likely appeal.
The U.S. brought the case in March 2012 amid growing complaints from chicken farmers that India was shielding its own poultry producers from foreign competition through unjustified animal health measures.
In October 2014, the WTO's dispute settlement panel handed the U.S. a near-complete win, dinging India for setting up its poultry and egg ban in 2007 even though no case of high-pathogenic bird flu had been found in the U.S. since 2004. The panel found that India unjustly made no distinction between that strain and the tamer low-pathogenic strain that had cropped up in the U.S.
A June 2015 ruling from the WTO's Appellate Body firmly endorsed the original panel's findings, which forced India to comply or risk costly tariff retaliation from the U.S. government.
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