Game of chicken ends: WTO rules in favor of U.S. poultry

U.S. poultry producers on Tuesday hailed what they called a favorable ruling from the World Trade Organization that they hope will force India to open its large market to American exports.

The announcement of the favorable WTO ruling came from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which said a dispute-resolution panel determined that India unfairly blocked U.S. exports of chicken products, meat, eggs and live pigs.

“This is a major victory for American farmers. The WTO panel agreed with the U.S. case that India lacks any scientific basis to restrict U.S. agricultural products, including U.S. poultry products,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement. “Our farmers produce the finest – and safest – agricultural products in the world.”

The ban on poultry products by India dates back to 2007, ostensibly to guard against low pathogenic avian influenza. The ruling does not give immediate access to the Indian market, cautioned the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, and further consultations will now be needed.

“India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism,” said a statement from James Sumner, the council’s president, and Michael Brown, president of the National Chicken Council. “This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans” on U.S. agriculture exports.

The councils estimate the annual Indian poultry market size at 2.6 million metric tons and growing each year at a rate of 8 percent to 10 percent. If the Indian market were to open in the near future, it’d help offset lost exports to Russia, which slammed the door on U.S. poultry products after the imposition of sanctions by the Obama administration and the European Union.