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A World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel has ruled that a US ban on Chinese poultry is illegal – the first such reprimand for legislation brought in under the Obama Administration, according to

Last year US trade organizations 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 a five-year ban on Chinese poultry sparked by the 2004 avian flu outbreak. China asked a WTO trade resolution panel to intervene about a year ago.

The report said 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.

The WTO agreed with this complaint in its dispute settlement report, calling the US position “origin-based discrimination” and saying that the US’ argument that China has different levels of poultry safety compared to other WTO members was “hypothetical” and no evidence had been presented.

As a result of the WTO’s decision, overseas markets could feasibly impose sanctions on American products, the report added.

China imported USD$442 million (NZD$596 million) worth of US poultry during 2008, including chicken feet, for which there is no market in the US.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) started the administrative process for clearing cooked poultry for import in 2006, after it had been blocked due to avian flu fears in 2004, but Congress denied funding. That provision has been included in every annual Appropriations Act since, but those in the meat industry have said that if the rule is not relaxed, it could hurt US industry.  – Source


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