Indian food industry poses trade barriers: USTR

The United States Trade Representative, in a report, has said the Indian policies in the food and poultry sector pose significant trade barriers between the two countries.

"Since 2003, India has imposed unwarranted SPS requirements on US dairy imports, which have precluded US access to India's dairy market, one of the largest in the world. India has insisted on onerous certification requirements and refused to accept US food safety and animal health standards as effective," the USTR said in its annual report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Barriers to Trade.

The report said that India maintains zero-tolerance standards for certain plant quarantine pests, such as weed seeds and ergot. Such zero tolerance standards block US wheat and barley exports to India. Bilateral discussions to resolve these issues continue.

Expressing its displeasure on Indian policy in pulses, the USTR said this requires that shipments of all pulses to India be fumigated with at methyl bromide (MB) at the port of origin.

"In August 2004, the United States asked India to permit the exportation of US pea and pulse consignments to India without fumigation at the port of origin provided they are inspected and, if necessary, fumigated at the port of arrival," it said.

"India has enacted, but not implemented a requirement that shipments of all pulses to India be fumigated at the point of origin, allowing MB fumigation on arrival, but has offered no permanent solution. The most recent extension expires on March 31, 2014. The United States continues to seek a permanent resolution to this issue," the report said.

Noting that the Indian import certificate for pork requires importers to make an attestation that the imported pork does not contain any residues of pesticides, veterinary drugs, mycotoxins, or other chemicals above the MRLs prescribed in international standards, the report rued that these certificates fail to identify specific compounds and their corresponding international limits, creating uncertainty for importers.

Similarly, the animal health attestations that India requires for the exportation of pork to India are vague, and India requires extra inspections that do not appear to be consistent with international standards, it said.

"India also prohibits imports from the United States of pork products obtained from animals raised outside the United States, notwithstanding the safety of those products. Further, import certificates are valid for only six months and must be obtained for each imported lot."

"The United States will continue to press India to lift its unwarranted restrictions and to revise its import certificates so as to clarify any legitimate requirements and be valid for a reasonable period of time," USTR said.

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