According to the Associated Press, a three-member panel of the World Trade Organization on Sept. 29 declared that an American ban on Chinese poultry is illegal. The WTO said the United States was violating a number of its trade obligations by preventing Chinese chicken parts from entering the U.S. market, ruling against a measure in last year’s U.S. federal spending bill.
The law extended a five-year U.S. ban on Chinese chicken declared after a 2004 outbreak of bird flu. The Obama administration has handled a number of cases it inherited from President George W. Bush’s tenure, but the poultry case represented the first WTO complaint launched specifically against legislation signed by Obama.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative acknowledged the defeat but said the restrictions in question were soon expiring and would be replaced by better conditions for Chinese poultry.
“The United States had explained that the temporary funding restriction was justified under WTO rules,” spokeswoman Nefeterius McPherson said. “The panel, however, found otherwise.”
Beijing and Washington banned each others’ poultry in 2004 following an outbreak of bird flu. But China lifted the ban after a few months and has imported more than 4 million tons of U.S. poultry since 2004—mostly feet and other parts of birds that are popular in China but not elsewhere. The United States refuses to do the same.
“While urging its trading partners to further open markets, the United States has adopted more restrictive and protectionist practices in its domestic market,” Chinese Ambassador Sun Zhenyu noted at a WTO meeting Sept. 29.
Sun said American industrial subsidies, stimulus plans, bailouts, national security exemptions, and “Buy American” or “Hire American” provisions “go against the commitment to opposing trade protectionism made by the United States at various multilateral forums, contradict its own preaching of free-trade spirit, and have negatively affected international trade.”