After more than the usual delay, three dispute settlement panelists have been chosen to hear and determine the outcome of the World Trade Organization (WTO) action to have India remove its restrictions on the imports of U.S. poultry. Proceedings were stymied as continued disagreement between the two countries over the make-up of the panel slowed the process.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking to have India eliminate its virtual ban on imports of chicken legs and similar parts India says are necessary because India believes such imports will lead to avian influenza in its poultry flock.  USTR argues India’s measures do not comply with science, international standards, and India’s own rules for domestic poultry. China, Colombia, Ecuador, the European Union, Guatemala, Japan, Vietnam, Argentina, Australia and Brazil are third parties in the WTO dispute.

In a related development, the House Ways and Means Trade subcommittee will hold a hearing on U.S.-India trade relations next week.  The hearing will focus on the growing trade and investment relationship between the two countries. Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said:

The U.S.-India partnership is and will continue to be crucial to the global economy in the 21st century, and bilateral trade and investment ties are the lynchpin to keeping this strategic relationship strong.  India faces tremendous domestic political challenges as it seeks to grow its economy and lift millions of people out of poverty.  However, I am concerned that India has launched a series of alarming policies that harm U.S. job creators and are counterproductive.  I intend to push India to remove barriers that prevent U.S. companies, farmers, ranchers, and workers from competing on a level playing field and selling their world-class products and services to India’s 1.2 billion consumers.

According to the subcommittee, the United States and India are experiencing the largest bilateral trade and investment flows ever recorded in this bilateral relationship, with total goods and services trade in 2011 recorded at $86 billion.  The United States is India’s third largest trading partner, and India is our 13th largest trading partner.

The National Chicken Council together with the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and the National Turkey Federation submitted comments to USTR that estimate U.S. poultry exports to India could increase to $300 million annually if India removed its tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.