UK Trade and Animal Welfare Coalition calls for Core Standards in Free Trade Agreements

UK Trade and Animal Welfare Coalition calls for Core Standards in Free Trade Agreements

23 November 2021

The UK Trade & Animal Welfare Coalition (TAWC) has released its new report on how to address core animal welfare standards in UK trade policy. TAWC calls on the UK government to adopt a two-step approach in order to ensure not only that animal welfare is protected in the UK, but also that UK trade policy serves to promote animal welfare in partner countries.

The UK has over 40 specific animal welfare and health standards set out in legislation, alongside a Government manifesto commitment to maintain those standards in any Free Trade Agreement (FTA). At the moment, only animal welfare-related animal health standards are imposed on imported goods, as well as standards on welfare at the time of slaughter. TAWC believes that, if the UK is truly committed to protect animals, as well as British farmers, it should make its animal welfare standards part of the “core standards it wants to see protected in trade policy”. This echoes what the Trade & Agricultural Committee (TAC) also recommended in its March 2021 report to Government. 

In this report, TAWC suggests a two-step approach: 

  • First, the UK should maintain all animal welfare and animal health standards already covering imports, and strive to increase this list, wherever WTO rules allow for it. The revision of existing UK animal welfare standards - or the adoption of new rules - should be used as an opportunity to upgrade the necessary pieces of legislation to achieve such a purpose. 
  • Until this legislative revision - or if the UK would not have a case at the WTO, the UK should make the preferential access to its market granted in trade agreements, conditional upon the respect of animal welfare standards applied in the UK. 

With deals like the ones with New Zealand and Australia moving forward, as well as negotiations with Canada, Mexico and India amongst others, TAWC believes now is the time for the UK Government to define its core standards, including on animal welfare, and to present concrete proposals allowing to ensure UK trade policy will not undermine such standards, and even more allow to promote them abroad. 

TAWC will be holding a breakfast webinar on 24th November 08:30-09:30 GMT to discuss the core standards and how current FTAs could jeopardise those standards.