The United States believes India is unfairly restricting imports of U.S. poultry based on false food safety claims and the United States could take action at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to try to open the market, U.S. Trade Representatives Ron Kirk said at a hearing before the House Committee on Ways and Means this week. “Our American poultry is safe.  There is no reason for them to deny us access,” Ambassador Kirk said in response to a question at the trade hearing.  “We are extraordinarily frustrated with India’s continued non-application of internationally recognized scientific standards,” he said.

Ambassador Kirk also highlighted some of the Obama administration’s key initiatives for 2012, including the fact that final plans are being made to bring the U.S.-Korea trade agreement into force on March 15.  He also said that the United States was working with the governments of Colombia and Panama to fulfill their commitments so that those trade agreements can take effect as soon as possible.

Kirk stated during the hearing that “this year, we are getting even tougher on trade enforcement,” pointing out that this week President Obama established by Executive Order the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center to “prioritize and more aggressively challenge the kinds of unfair trade practices we fight fiercely everyday.”

The Ambassador also said that the United States was ready to bring Russia into a rules-based system to give the United States more enforcement tools to “enable enhanced market access and a level playing field for U.S. exporters.”  “That’s why the administration will seek termination of Russia’s Jackson-Vanik status as soon as possible to ensure that American firms enjoy the same job-supporting benefits of Russia’s WTO membership as our international competitors,” Kirk said.

“We’re also moving full speed ahead in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Building on the broad outlines announced last November, we are seeking to conclude a landmark TPP agreement this year that will address cross-cutting issues such as promoting regulatory coherence among our countries, enhancing the participation of small businesses into Asia-Pacific trade, and building regional supply chains that promote U.S. jobs,” Kirk told members of the congressional committee. He also pointed out that, at the WTO, USTR is continuing to look for fresh approaches to market-opening trade negotiations in the Doha Round.