New Trans-Pacific trade deal a 'nail in coffin' for animal welfare, fears RSPCA
The UK’s accession into the Trans-Pacific trade bloc is another nail in the coffin for animal welfare in the UK, warns the RSPCA.
The animal welfare charity has warned that the deal could allow the import of products produced to lower animal welfare standards than are legal at home.
Many members of the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) use methods of production that would be illegal in the UK and there are no explicit references to animal welfare standards in the trade bloc’s formal conditions.
The RSPCA fears that meat produced in the bloc’s member countries using methods that are illegal in the UK - such as sow stalls and battery eggs - will find their way onto the UK’s supermarket shelves and unwittingly onto the plates of British consumers.
RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said:
The UK joining this Trans-Pacific trade bloc is another potential nail in the coffin for animal welfare standards back home. Many CPTPP countries use methods of production which are illegal here, such as sow stalls and battery cages for laying hens. Worryingly, we now fear there will be nothing to stop those products from being imported into the UK.
We were hoping that this Trans-Pacific agreement would result in a far better outcome in terms of animal welfare than the stand-alone trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, but this looks like another catastrophic own goal for animal welfare.
The UK Government had said it was committed to maintaining welfare standards in international trade deals - but has negotiated a deal that will allow 55,000 tonnes of pig meat produced under standards illegal in the UK to be imported; and, worryingly an endless amount of egg products produced in battery hens cages, a system that has been illegal in the UK since 2012. Bizarrely, the only country not allowed to export its eggs under the agreement is Australia - which is too far away, in any case!
Unless iron-clad safeguards on standards are produced, this deal is a huge concern. Animal welfare standards are not addressed in this Trans-Pacific trade bloc agreement nor seemingly in what the UK has negotiated. But if the UK Government is to honour its manifesto commitment to protect our leading standards, it must take steps to keep these products off our supermarket shelves.
The CPTPP member nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. In most respects, the UK has higher legal animal welfare standards than virtually every other CPTPP member country. Many of the members, including Canada and Mexico, use methods of production that are illegal in the UK.
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