US challenges India poultry import ban at trade body

A worker at a poultry farm in India
Image caption The US authorities have accused India to trying to protect its domestic poultry industry

The US has dragged India to the World Trade Organization challenging its ban on imports of American poultry.

India has banned shipments of US farm products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs, since 2007 to prevent the spread of avian flu.

US authorities said India had imposed the ban to protect local industry and that it violates global trade rules.

The move comes just days after the US created a new panel to crack down on unfair trade practices by its partners.

Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative, said that India's ban was "clearly a case of disguising trade restrictions by invoking unjustified animal health concerns".

"The United States is the world's leader in agricultural safety and we are confident that the World Trade Organization will confirm that India's ban is unjustified."

Key market

India is the world's second most populous country and the demand for poultry products has been growing in the Asian nation.

According to some estimates, the Indian poultry market is expanding at an annual rate of between 8% to 10%.

The US, which is the world's largest producer of poultry meat, is keen to tap into this fast-growing market.

Industry experts said US exports to India could touch $300m (£190m) annually, if India lifted the ban on US poultry goods.

"As the middle class in India continues to expand, and the market moves more toward commercial poultry, the United States should be afforded the opportunity to compete fairly with our products in this growing market," said Mike Brown, president of the US National Chicken Council.

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