May 10, 2010


India maintains poultry and pork import curbs



India has refused to remove restrictions on import of pork and poultry products imposed last year as a preventive measure against spread of bird flu despite mounting pressure from the EU and the US.


In a recent meeting of the WTO committee on sanitary and phytosanitary measures in Geneva, the US and EU representatives protested that the restrictions were not justified as their exports did not violate the standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).


The EU representative pointed out that this concern had been discussed bilaterally for several years but India has gone beyond the OIE standards and applied restrictions.


Backing the claim, the US official argued India had maintained an emergency measure in one form or another since 2002 and its emergency notifications since 2004 had essentially blocked all imports.


Poultry and meat exports from the US and the EU were banned by several countries following the outbreak of the bird flu. Subsequently, certain countries, such as the Philippines, have lifted the ban.


India had also announced that import of unprocessed meat would no longer be blocked for reasons of bird flu, but said only heat-treated pig meat could be allowed, a measure not in line with international standards, the EU said.


The EU added that India should provide scientific evidence justifying its strict measures to bring its import requirements in line with international standards.

Refuting the allegations, India has said that notification issued in August last year prohibited the import of poultry and poultry products and live pigs from countries reporting both highly pathogenic and low pathogenic avian influenza.


India's technical experts had observed that symptoms of highly pathogenic avian influenza were noticeable and the infection could be controlled, but low pathogenic avian influenza might pass unnoticed and the controlling the infection could become difficult.


Imports are currently allowed based on the bird flu status of the exporting country. The official added that comments received from trading partners on this notification were under examination.