E.U. ban of U.S. poultry goes before W.T.O.

by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
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GENEVA — On Jan. 16, the Bush administration filed a new case at the World Trade Organization over an EU ban on American poultry, according to The Associated Press. Just one day after escalating a 13-year beef dispute with Brussels, Washington said it had run out of patience with European restrictions on imports of poultry treated with anti-bacterial chemicals and that it had no choice but to bring the dispute to the WTO.

"The poultry treatments at issue have been widely and safely used in the United States for many years," said Susan Schwab, President Bush's outgoing U.S. trade representative. "The EU's own scientists have repeatedly found these treatments not only to be safe, but effective."

As the world's largest poultry producer, the U.S. has tried to resolve the dispute through dialogue over 11 years, she added. But the EU has failed to offer "any legitimate, science-based reason for continuing to block our poultry," she said.

Chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chloride, trisodium phosphate and peroxyacids are the four pathogen-reduction treatments named in the dispute. Although each has been approved for poultry processing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the EU has blocked poultry carcasses processed with such treatments since 1997.

The 27-nation EU said it regretted the U.S.’s decision. "Let's be clear: There is no ban on poultry from the U.S.," spokesman Peter Power said. "We apply our regulatory measures to both domestic and imported goods."

Meanwhile, the WTO confirmed receipt of Washington's complaint, which initiates a 60-day consultation period between the countries, after which the U.S. can ask the global trade referee to establish an investigative panel. The WTO can authorize trade sanctions, but usually after years of litigation.

The U.S. poultry industry applauded the U.S. Trade Representative for taking this step to challenge to the European Union’s 11-year import ban of American poultry products.

"The EU has refused to listen to its own scientific advisors and has hidden behind bogus sanitary barriers with no scientific basis," said a statement from the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Export Council. "The EU’s protectionist stance has excluded American chicken, turkey, duck and other poultry for 11 years. We hope the matter can be resolved through consultations, but if the United States has to request a panel under WTO rules, so be it. U.S. poultry producers and exporters will continue to be fully and strongly in support of the U.S. government’s effort."

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