Explained: Why India and US Resolve Their WTO Agriculture Dispute?

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India utilized WTO litigation as part of its strategy to buy time until the Avian Influenza threat naturally diminished. With the threat subsiding and the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 and subsequent containment efforts, a win-win situation for both parties was achieved, making the mutual agreement dated March 21, 2024, possible.

New Delhi (ABC Live): On March 15, India and the United States jointly notified the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body of a mutually agreed solution to dispute DS430, titled “India — Measures Concerning the Importation of Certain Agricultural Products.” This notification was circulated to WTO members on March 21.

Background on dispute DS430 between India and the United States:

On March 6, 2012, the United States initiated consultations with India under the WTO's dispute settlement system regarding India's import restrictions on agricultural products from the United States, allegedly due to concerns related to Avian Influenza.

According to the United States, India's import prohibitions included:

(a) Domestic and wild birds (including poultry and captive birds);

(b) Day-old chicks, ducks, turkeys, and other newly hatched avian species;

(c) Unprocessed meat and meat products from avian species, including domesticated and wild birds and poultry;

(d) Hatching eggs;

(e) Eggs and egg products (excluding Specific Pathogen Free eggs);

(f) Unprocessed feathers;

(g) Live pigs;

(h) Pathological material and biological products from birds;

(i) Products of animal origin (from birds) intended for use in animal feeding or for agricultural or industrial use; and

(j) Semen of domestic and wild birds, including poultry.

It is documented that India imposed the aforementioned poultry import ban by invoking the provisions of the Indian Livestock Importation Act, 1898, and orders issued by India's Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries ("DAHD") under the Livestock Act, most notably S.O. 1663(E), which was published in the Gazette of India on July 19, 2011, and which prohibits the import of the aforementioned poultry products.

Why did both countries decide to settle their dispute with a mutual agreement on March 21, 2024, after 12 years of litigation at the WTO?

The Avian Influenza outbreak served as a legitimate reason for India's imposition of the import ban on the aforementioned poultry products from countries affected by the virus, including the United States. India utilized WTO litigation as part of its strategy to buy time until the Avian Influenza threat naturally diminished. With the threat subsiding and the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 and subsequent containment efforts, a win-win situation for both parties was achieved, making the mutual agreement dated March 21, 2024, possible.

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