Friday, July 31, 2009
At the request of China, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has established a dispute resolution panel to hear China's complaint that certain U.S. laws are discriminating against poultry products from China. This dispute stems from concerns over the bird flu, which led both parties to ban imports of poultry products from the other in 2004. China has since allowed some U.S. poultry products to be imported into China, but the U.S. has maintained its ban on poultry products from China. More recently, the U.S. enacted the Omnibus Appropriation Act of 2009, which prohibits any of the funds subject to the Act from being used to establish or implement a rule allowing imports of poultry from China. China claims that the U.S. laws are patently discriminatory in violation of WTO rules. The U.S. disagrees, arguing that it is taking an objective science-based approach to determining whether the Chinese food safety system meets U.S. standards for protection of health, as permitted under WTO rules. Following in the wake of EC-Asbestos and US-Hormones cases, this case may ultimately provide further guidance regarding permissible health and safety measures under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, as well as other WTO rules. A ruling will likely be issued in 2010.