The World Trade Organization has ruled against India in its ban on U.S. poultry imports, a move that has been commended by the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the National Chicken Council (NCC). The ruling was announced October 14 by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

India placed a ban on U.S. poultry products in 2007 under the guise of preventing low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), but produced no scientific evidence to support the ban’s validity. In response, USTR initiated consultations in 2012, refuting India’s claims that LPAI will mutate into a highly pathogenic form of the virus.

“India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism,” USAPEEC President James Sumner and National Chicken Council President Michael Brown said in a joint statement. “This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on U.S. poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

“Our industry believes that free and fair trade – particularly with food – should never be used as a political bargaining chip. Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which the U.S. has the ability to provide,” stated Sumner and Brown. “We thank former USTR Ron Kirk for initiating the complaint against India, and (current) Ambassador Michael Froman for continuing to pursue the case for a favorable outcome.”

Today’s ruling does not give the U.S. automatic access to India’s market, which is estimated to be approximately 2.6 million metric tons of U.S. poultry annually, and is growing at a rate of 8 percent to 10 percent per year.

“We recognize that work remains to open India’s market – but this ruling is an important step toward securing that objective. We hope that the new Indian administration will be amenable to working with the U.S. government and industry to remove all restrictions and allow access for U.S. poultry in the near future,” Sumner and Brown concluded.