WASHINGTON – The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body’s decision to reject India’s appeal of its ban on US poultry imports, which could cost US poultry exporters hundreds of millions of dollars annually, was lauded by officials with the National Chicken Council (NCC) and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC).

“We want to thank US Trade Representative Michael Froman and US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and their teams for their tireless work to pursue this case to the favorable outcome that was achieved today,” said NCC and USAPEEC in a joint statement responding to the June 4 ruling. “Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which the US has the ability to provide. We hope that the Indian administration will comply with the ruling and will be amenable to working with the US government and industry to remove all restrictions and allow access for US poultry in the near future, which we estimate would be $300 million a year once India’s restrictions are removed.”

India placed a ban on US poultry in 2007 to prevent what it claimed as low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), but produced no scientific evidence to support the ban’s validity, according to NCC. In response, the US Trade Representative (USTR) initiated consultations in 2012, refuting India’s claims that LPAI will mutate into a highly pathogenic form of the virus.

NCC and USAPEEC said the WTO panel and Appellate Body overwhelmingly agreed with US claims that:

• India’s ban is not based on international standards or a risk assessment;

• India discriminates against US products in favor of Indian products;

• India’s measures are more trade restrictive than necessary because it is safe to import US products meeting international standards; and

• India's restrictions are not adapted to the characteristics of US exporting regions.

“Today’s announcement by the WTO affirms what we’ve said all along — India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism,” the NCC and USAPEEC said. “This ruling should send a signal to other countries that have placed similar bans on US poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).”

“This is a major win for US agriculture and, in particular, the US poultry industry,” Vilsack said in a statement, noting that the decision affirms the importance of basing agricultural trade requirements on sound science. “Today, America’s poultry producers are being challenged again by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, and this decision serves to encourage USDA’s efforts to maintain open markets for US poultry based on international standards.”