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U.S. Statement on Panel Request by China / Poultry Imports

July 31, 2009

Geneva, Switzerland - The United States is disappointed that China has decided to pursue its request for a panel in this matter.

We understand that a panel will be established today. Nonetheless, we do not agree with China's assertions that the measure at issue amounts to a discriminatory or protectionist measure.

As we have stated, nothing in the measure identified by China prevents the relevant U.S. authorities from continuing to work together to reach an objective, science-based response to China's request for a declaration of equivalence with respect to poultry products. These authorities are examining whether China's food safety system ensures that poultry products from China meet the U.S. level of protection, and they are proceeding in a way that both safeguards human life and health and is consistent with U.S. obligations under the WTO Agreement. We are confident that a panel will agree.

In addition, the United States does not agree with China's statement at the previous meeting of the DSB that this measure should forestall the normal business of trade between the United States and China. The United States and China have a broad and deep trade relationship, and we continue to work together closely on a bilateral and multilateral basis to resolve any problems that may arise. On occasion, both the United States and China have had recourse to dispute settlement under the DSU, as the WTO Agreement contemplates.

Although we are disappointed that China has chosen to pursue a panel in this matter, we are confident that this dispute can be resolved through the WTO dispute settlement system. Therefore, we see no reason that this or any other dispute should have repercussions on any other trade matters between the United States and China.

Finally, we also remain concerned with the way in which China has framed its panel request. In particular, we must point out again that the request appears both to include measures that were not consulted upon or do not exist and to make claims under a covered agreement pursuant to which consultations were neither requested nor held.