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WTO investigates US ban on Chinese poultry

The World Trade Organization has launched a formal investigation of the US ban on Chinese poultry, after China allegedly said Washington was breaking global commerce rules, CBS News reports.

Beijing told the WTO's dispute settlement body that Washington had imposed "naked discriminative protectionism measures" in completely banning Chinese chicken products entering the US market. The US countered that it was still examining whether Chinese poultry was safe for human consumption.

It was China's second request for the WTO to establish an investigative panel. The US blocked China's first request last month, but could not do so again under WTO rules, reports continue.

The trade body confirmed that a panel had been set up to deliver a ruling at some point next year.

China and the US banned each others' poultry in 2004 following an outbreak of bird flu in Asia. But China lifted the ban after a few months and complains that Washington refuses to do the same. Meanwhile, China has since imported over 4 mln t of US poultry.

"These unilateral measures fundamentally violate relevant WTO rules, significantly impede the ordinary Sino-U.S. trade in poultry products, and substantially impair the rights and benefits that Chinese enterprises deserve to enjoy," China said in a statement.

Beijing is protesting a measure in the 2009 U.S. federal spending bill, signed by President Barack Obama in March, that extended the U.S. ban by blocking any funds from being used to facilitate imports of poultry products from China.

The US denied that the ban was discriminatory or protectionist, and said its authorities were "continuing to work together to reach an objective, science-based response" to China's request for equal treatment of its poultry exports.

Source: CBS News

Natalie Berkhout

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