U.S. Complains at WTO Over India’s Limits on Farm-Products

The U.S. complained at the World Trade Organization about Indian curbs on its farm products, saying limits on imports such as poultry and eggs are discriminatory.

India says the ban is aimed at preventing bird flu, “but it has not provided scientific evidence in line with international standards on avian-influenza control,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said today in an e-mailed statement from Washington. While the U.S. has asked India to justify the need for the ban, “India has not provided valid, scientifically based justification for the import restrictions.”

Global trade rules permit members of the Geneva-based WTO to adopt regulations to protect human, animal or plant life or health. However, such measures can’t be imposed to safeguard domestic industry.

“India’s ban on U.S. poultry is clearly a case of disguising trade restrictions by invoking unjustified animal health concerns,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in the statement.

The request for consultations is the first step in the case and means the two countries must now hold talks for at least two months in a bid to resolve the dispute. If the talks fail, the U.S. can ask WTO judges to rule.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer M. Freedman in Geneva at jfreedman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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