Washington announced yesterday that it has initiated consultations with New Delhi at the WTO over India's prohibition on imports of US poultry, chicken eggs, and other agricultural products - the first stage in the global trade body's dispute settlement process.

India announced the immediate prohibition of cotton exports on Monday. The move from the world's second largest cotton exporter caused a stir in market prices and surprised political officials. A group of the country's ministers is expected to review the decision later this week.

An Australian law intended to make the packaging of cigarettes less appealing to consumers again came under fire at the WTO last week, with developing country tobacco producers arguing that the measure could curtail competitiveness in the tobacco market and is inconsistent with multilateral trade rules.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) could soon find itself butting heads with Brussels over how best to tackle emissions from international shipping, analysts say, after the UN shipping body was unable to make "tangible progress" in this area at last week's major meeting.

A controversial EU plan to label oil originating from oil sands deposits, like those found in the Canadian province of Alberta, as “highly polluting” has been temporarily put on hold, after an EU committee failed to make a definite decision on the matter.

A bid by the Philippines to extend special treatment on rice imports at the WTO is being blocked by the US over health and safety standards for frozen meat, the Filipino agriculture minister claimed last Thursday. The two sides met today in the Philippines in an attempt to resolve the row.

In its first major policy announcement of the new year, China has revealed plans to boost spending on agricultural science and technology - continuing a trend towards rapidly-growing farm support in recent years.

The Chinese government has barred the country’s airlines from participating in Brussels’ controversial plan to place a levy on foreign airlines for the emissions they use on incoming and outgoing flights. With China also set to meet with other opponents of the aviation emissions levy - including India, Russia, and the US - later this month to discuss a plan of action, tensions over the EU scheme are expected to escalate much further.

Leaked EU draft texts confirm expectations that the 27-member bloc is likely to seek to 'green' farm subsidy payments after 2013 by adding new rules on protecting the environment. Controversially, though, the drafts also reveal new plans to allow some countries to re-allocate more direct payments to the production of particular crops - reversing prior attempts to 'decouple' farm support from production and thus reduce the trade distortions that this support might cause.

Gilead Sciences has become the first pharmaceutical company to set up a licensing agreement with the recently-established Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), in a move aimed toward increasing access in developing countries to drugs that treat HIV and Hepatitis B.