WELFARE AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
BILLIONS OF ANIMALS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS ARE TRADED GLOBALLY EVERY YEAR. THE EU ACTS AS A MAJOR SOURCE OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND FOR THESE PRODUCTS. IN THE LAST DECADE, THE TRADE BETWEEN THE EU AND NON-EU COUNTRIES IN ANIMAL PRODUCTS HAS ALMOST DOUBLED. HOWEVER, LITTLE CONSIDERATION IS GIVEN TO ANIMAL WELFARE IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE NEGOTIATIONS. THEREFORE, TRADE LIBERALISATION FORCES EUROPEAN PRODUCERS TO COMPETE WITH POORLY REGULATED AND CHEAP IMPORTS OF ANIMAL PRODUCTS. FURTHER, WITHOUT APPROPRIATE LABELLING, EUROPEAN CONSUMERS CANNOT MAKE INFORMED CHOICES WHEN PURCHASING ANIMAL PRODUCTS.
Proliferation of free trade agreements has caused production of animal products to intensify. A growing portion of animals and animal products consumed in Europe originate from third countries. In 2015, 202 tonnes (€1.81 billion) of bovine meat were imported from third countries. The EU also exports significant amounts of animal products. 1.74 million tonnes (€4 billion) of swine meat were exported from the EU to third states in 2015.
This is often detrimental to farm animal welfare because most international trade agreements are silent on animal welfare issues such as husbandry, feeding and slaughter methods. Without appropriate labelling, consumers cannot know whether animal products placed on the European market meet EU standards. Therefore, the EU may be pressured to lower animal welfare standards, or not to enact new standards at all, so that European producers can compete with lower cost imports. International trade negotiations also impact wild animals and animals used in research and testing. Indeed, the EU is the third largest market for wildlife products.
Our Trade and Animal Welfare Project is made possible by Deutscher Tierschutzbund, VIER PFOTEN, Compassion in World Farming, Fondation Brigitte Bardot, and the RSPCA. The project takes a holistic, long-term and strategic approach. It seeks to ensure that animal welfare is included within multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, so that current EU animal welfare standards are maintained and improvements to animal welfare in third countries are promoted.
Our activities range from in-depth work on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - producing a first-ever EU-wide common position on the current state of play - to promoting concepts such as conditional liberalisation. We participate in the implementation of existing technical assistance provisions, research problematic trade flows (such as Pregnant Mare’s Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG) from Latin America, horse meat from North and South America, and live transports to the Middle East), and identify trade-related animal welfare regulations (or lack thereof). This is done through:
BUILDING KNOWLEDGE AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING
It is crucial for EU decision makers to be kept abreast of developments in international trade. Providing decision makers with effective and constructive advocacy will improve understanding of the international trade agenda and its implications for EU animal welfare standards.
We aim to improve links between the trade and animal welfare worlds so that those working in both worlds can better understand each other. This will facilitate better consideration of animal welfare in trade negotiations.
STRENGTHENING CHANNELS FOR ADVOCACY
Our advocacy efforts aim to inform trade policy decision-makers and stakeholders of animal welfare issues, and to create tools for animal welfare organisations to advocate for improvements to animal welfare.
We act as a radar in monitoring all animal welfare-related affairs in international trade including free trade agreements such as TTIP, CETA, EU-Japan, EU-Vietnam and EU-MERCOSUR.
BUILDING A LONG-TERM STRATEGIC APPROACH TO TRADE LOBBYING
We aim to bring together the separate worlds of trade and animal welfare. The European public want this. A 2016 Eurobarometer survey proved: 93% of Europeans strongly agree that imported products from outside the EU should respect the same animal welfare standards as those applied in the EU.
We hope to work toward achieving this by analysing EU bilateral trade relationships in-depth and lobbying the EU to adopt pro-animal welfare negotiating positions that account for consumer interests, trends in international trade, labelling and traceability, and private and voluntary standards.