America demands its pound of flesh even after India eases poultry imports
The first consignment of poultry from the US arrived in India last month after import restrictions on American chicken were eased, but Washington is yet to withdraw its case in the WTO seeking $450 million annually as damages. “Since India did not have a sequencing agreement with the US in the poultry dispute it lost, the Americans have an upper hand over us and are exploiting it by allowing the retaliation panel case to continue. The US wants to take its time in ensuring that everything is in order before withdrawing the case,” the official said.
The Centre is trying to convince Washington to withdraw the case before July 20, which is the date that the two had negotiated to keep the proceedings of the retaliatory panel on hold. “After July 20, the retaliatory panel can act on the US plea and give its verdict. We are hoping that we can convince the US to withdraw its complaint before that as we have not only respected the judgement passed by the WTO but also gone further and made changes in our notifications to suit particular demands made by the US. There is nothing more that we could do in the matter,” the official said. The issue has also been taken up by India with the US at the diplomatic level in Washington DC.
India had lost a case at the WTO in 2015 filed by the US against restrictive avian influenza measures which prevented American poultry products to enter the Indian market. The US had said that the restrictions were not based on scientific validation. Following the WTO ruling in favour of the US, India made two rounds of changes in its rules on bird flu to bring it in line with the Dispute Settlement Body’s ruling, but the US was not satisfied and filed a case with the retaliatory panel seeking compensation.
India, on its part, asked the WTO to set up a compliance panel to examine if its new import rules were in line with the DSB’s ruling. However, while the compliance panel takes long in coming out with its verdict, the retaliatory panel is quick to rule. “India would not have had to fear the verdict of a retaliatory panel had it signed a sequencing agreement with the US when the case was launched. A sequencing agreement would have allowed a compliance panel to rule while safeguarding US rights to retaliate in the event of a finding of non-compliance,” the official said.
Pricing & taste
Although India has imported chicken from the US on a trial basis, it remains to be seen whether lifting of restrictions would translate into significant business for American chicken farmers. American chicken legs would have a cost advantage as it is likely to be priced much lower than the local variety, but the taste may be different as meat in the country is kept in cold storage for a long time. “These are initial days and we are yet to see if large orders are placed by Indian traders for chicken from the US,” the official said.
Source: Business Line