GENEVA (AP) – China launched the first World Trade Organization case against the administration of President Barack Obama on Friday, challenging a U.S. ban on Chinese poultry.

In a submission to the WTO, Beijing said Washington was violating a number of global commerce rules by preventing Chinese chicken parts from entering the U.S. market.

Its request for consultation kicks off a 60-day consultation period, after which it can ask the WTO to launch a formal investigation.

The WTO can authorize sanctions against countries failing to comply with trade rules, but usually after years of litigation. China and the U.S. still have a number of outstanding disputes left over from former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

In Washington, Deborah Mesloh, a spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, said that the administration viewed the WTO procedure as a “normal and constructive mechanism to allow trading partners to resolve their differences.”

China and the U.S. banned each others’ poultry in 2004 following an outbreak of bird flu. But China lifted the ban after a few months and complains that Washington refuses to do the same.

Since 2004, China has imported more than 4 million tons of U.S. poultry – mostly feet and other parts of birds that are popular in China but not elsewhere.

Beijing is protesting a measure in the 2009 U.S. federal spending bill, signed by Obama in March, that extended the U.S. ban by blocking any funds from being used to facilitate imports of poultry products from China.

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