No US appeal on WTO Chinese poultry imports ruling

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags World trade organization

The United States has not appealed a final World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling issued this week that a US ban on Chinese poultry imports was illegal, officially ending the trade dispute.

At a meeting of the WTO’s dispute settlements body on Monday, the US did not file an appeal against the WTO panel’s decision that was made public at the end of September.

The United States imposed a five-year ban on Chinese cooked poultry imports in 2004 due to safety fears sparked by the avian flu outbreak. China dropped similar restrictions on American imports within a few months, but the US did not.

Last year US trade organizations representing the American meat industry and food companies urged the Obama Administration to oppose a provision in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act preventing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from allowing imports of cooked poultry from China.

However, the provision was included, continuing the ban, and China asked a WTO trade resolution panel to intervene about a year ago. China had complained that the US ban broke international trade rules because it did not allow for proper scientific assessment of the safety of Chinese cooked poultry for American consumption – some of which originates in the US.

An unidentified official at China’s Ministry of Commerce said on the department’s website: “The US ban on Chinese poultry product imports has damaged China's poultry industry, undermining the interests and rights of Chinese enterprises…The ruling makes it clear the US’s restrictive measures lack legal basis.”

China imported $442m worth of US poultry during 2008, including chicken feet, for which there is virtually no market in the US.

Under current US law, the US Department of Agriculture must deem a foreign country’s food safety procedures to be at least equivalent to those in use in the United States before poultry products can be imported.

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