Europe accepts WTO chicken defeat with China

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

The EU had been expected to make a statement on its implementation plans this week
The EU had been expected to make a statement on its implementation plans this week

Related tags International trade World trade organization Wto Poultry

The EU will amend import rules for Chinese chicken after a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel sided against the European bloc in a trade quarrel that stretches back two years.

A meeting took place at the WTO on 22 May, during which the EU said it “fully respects​” the dispute body’s final report and will comply in full with the ruling.

After the meeting, EU sources told this site: “Of course this cannot be done overnight, so, as per WTO rules, we will now engage with our Chinese counterparts to discuss a ‘reasonable period of time’ for this to be done.​”

Europe’s conformity to the WTO report effectively means that the bloc will be forced to import more chicken from China moving forwards.


In 2013, the EU made changes under the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which allows members to renegotiate import duties every three years. But to make this fair, other members that could be affected by such changes should be offered compensation concessions under the rules. China claimed the EU failed to meet this obligation.

The WTO dispute panel comprised representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Russia, Thailand and the US. A final report ruled the 2013 amendments to EU tariff rate quotas on certain poultry products allowed Brazil and Thailand to access the bulk of these quotas, restricting Chinese imports. This was “inconsistent​” with WTO rules, the panel said.

The panel recommended the EU bring its tariff rate quotas for poultry products “into conformity with its obligations​” under the GATT.

A source inside the WTO said last week that they expected the EU to make a statement on its implementation plans and seek a “reasonable period of time​”, after which it will enter talks with China.

A brief history of the EU-China chicken dispute

April 2015:​ China requests EU consultation over chicken tariff concessions
June 2015:​ China requests establishment of WTO dispute panel
December 2015:​ WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo sets up panel
July 2016:​ Chair of dispute panel confirms report will be ready by December 2016
March 2017:​ Report is circulated to WTO dispute members
April 2017:​ WTO dispute panel accepts report findings
May 2017:​ EU commits to comply with report ruling

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