Sometimes you win one.
The World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. recently, putting a stop to India’s unwarranted ban on several U.S. agricultural products. The decision could mean hundreds of millions for U.S. ag trade and benefit Louisiana in particular, where poultry is one of the top commodities grown in the state.
Farm Bureau Trade Specialist Dave Salmonsen said the WTO’s decision confirms that countries must follow established trade rules and cannot ban products without firm scientific reasoning.
“The decision came down squarely against the reasoning that India took and the methods that they used to ban U.S., primarily poultry, imports,” Salmonsen said. “I think it was a very strong and important decision that upholds the value of science-backed decision making and the use of international standards in dealing with food safety issues.”
India had claimed the import bans on poultry, eggs and live pigs were necessary to prevent entry of avian influenza into India. The United States, however, has not had an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza since 2004, while during that same interval India has had more than 90 outbreaks. Salmonsen calls this ruling an economic win for U.S. farmers.
“We always have to keep in mind that India could appeal this so nothing’s going to happen immediately, but we feel good at the end of the day they’ll be a market, estimated to be right now worth over $300 million annually, if U.S. poultry exports can go into India,” he said. “Certainly, there’s a potential there for a lot of growth.
Salmonsen adds it’s important that the U.S. continues to focus on opening new markets and re-opening markets around the globe for U.S. agricultural products.
“We need growth,” Salmonsen said. “We’re an export dependent agriculture so more and more we can produce more than our domestic market can handle. As important as our domestic market is our real opportunities for growth are around the world. Governments for reasons in the past and I’m sure reasons in the future will want to put up types of barriers. If you’re a WTO member that is supposed to follow the rules, you have to follow that and be committed to an open trading system.”