Washington: The US has approached the World Trade Organisation, seeking a dispute settlement panel to decide American claims that Indian restrictions on imports of various US agricultural products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs, were discriminatory.

The US has approached WTO after its talks with India failed to resolve the dispute between the two countries. "It is essential that US farmers obtain the reliable market access that India agreed to," US Trade Representative, Ron 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," Kirk said.

India asserts that its measures are aimed at preventing entry of avian influenza, but US officials argue that the measures are inconsistent with the relevant science, international guidelines, and the standards India has set for its own domestic industry.

The US requested formal consultations with India on March 7, 2012. The two countries and India held consultations on April 16-17, 2012, without resolution of the matter.

USTR officials said India is asserting it has the right to impose import restrictions on countries whenever they report outbreaks of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), the only kind of avian influenza found in the United States since 2004.

The relevant international guidelines as well as the relevant science do not support the imposition of measures of the type India is maintaining on account of LPAI, they said.

The WTO's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures ("SPS Agreement") explicitly recognizes that WTO Members have the right to adopt measures to protect human, animal, or plant life or health, they note.

However, to ensure that SPS measures do not restrict imports unfairly, WTO Members agreed in the SPS Agreement to disciplines on such measures, US official say.

USTR official argue that India appears to have acted inconsistently with its obligations under the SPS Agreement, including by failing to base its measures on international guidelines or a valid risk assessment and by failing to ensure that its measures do not unfairly discriminate against imports from countries such as the United States.


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