A new report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative has claimed that India’s policies in the food sector are posing significant barriers to trade between the two countries.
According to the USTR’s annual report on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers to trade, India has imposed unwarranted SPS requirements on US dairy imports since 2003, and these have precluded US access to India's large dairy market.
“India has insisted on onerous certification requirements and refused to accept US food safety and animal health standards as effective,” the report said.
In grain, the report stated that that even as bilateral talks are on in this space, India maintains zero-tolerance standards for certain plant quarantine pests, such as weed seeds and ergot, which prevent US wheat and barley exports to India.
For pulses, the USTR said that the same zero tolerance standards mean that shipments of all pulses to India be fumigated with at methyl bromide (MB) at the port of origin.
“In August 2004, the US asked India to permit the exportation of US pea and pulse consignments to India without fumigation at the port of origin provided they are inspected and, if necessary, fumigated at the port of arrival,” it said.
“India has enacted, but not implemented a requirement that shipments of all pulses to India be fumigated at the point of origin, allowing MB fumigation on arrival, but has offered no permanent solution. The most recent extension expires on March 31, 2014. The US continues to seek a permanent resolution to this issue.”
The report also slammed Indian policies on pork, stating that the Indian import certificate for pork requires importers to make an attestation that it does not contain any residues of pesticides and mycotoxins above limits as per global standards.
However, these certificates fail to identify specific compounds and their corresponding international limits, creating uncertainty for importers, the report said.
In a similar vein, India does clearly identify the animal health attestations for pork imports and that its extra inspections of these imports do not appear to be consistent with international standards.
“India also prohibits imports from the US of pork products obtained from animals raised outside the US, notwithstanding the safety of those products. Further, import certificates are valid for only six months and must be obtained for each imported lot,” it said.