WASHINGTON – The United States is requesting the World Trade Organization (WTO) establish a dispute settlement panel to resolve US claims regarding India’s restrictions on US agriculture products, including poultry meat and eggs, announced US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

India’s government has said the restrictions are aimed at preventing the introduction of avian influenza to the country, but the US said India’s measures are “…inconsistent with relevant science, international guidelines, and the standards India has set for its own domestic industry.”

“It is essential that US farmers obtain the reliable market access that India agreed to,” Ambassador Kirk said. “The United States holds its agriculture industry to the highest standards of safety and is confident the WTO will agree that there is no justification for India's restrictions on US exports.”

The US requested formal talks with India in March. Consultations were held in April, but without resolution of the matter. In response to Kirk’s announcement, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and the US Poultry & Egg Export Council released a statement:

“Unfortunately, the government of India did not lift its unwarranted restrictions on US poultry after consultations with the United States at the WTO in Geneva. However, we are pleased that USTR is taking the next step. We support the dispute settlement process moving forward as soon as possible with the formation of this panel.”

The groups said India has ignored international norms and banned US poultry imports and imports from any country that reports any incident of avian influenza, including cases of low pathogenicity. A conservative estimate puts the value of annual US poultry exports to India at more than $300 million if India’s trade barriers were eliminated.