Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Earlier today, the United States formally initiated dispute settlement proceedings against India at the World Trade Organization (WTO) by requesting consultations regarding India's restrictions on imports of agricultural products from the United States. News reports indicate that India has been restricting the importation of certain poultry products from the U.S. since 2007 allegedly to prevent the spread of the avian influenza. The United States believes India's concerns are unjustified.
The WTO's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures ("SPS Agreement") explicitly recognises that WTO Members have the right to adopt regulations to protect human, animal, or plant life or health. However, the SPS Agreement also requires that if WTO members impose trade restrictions for safety reasons, they must have scientific evidence or a valid risk assessment to support their actions. The U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has stated that India has not provided such scientifc evidence.
If consultations fail to resolve the matter within 60 days, the United States may request that a dispute settlement panel be established.