Vets welcome Trade and Agri report but ask Government how it will be applied to current trade negotiations
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the publication of the Trade and Agriculture Commission’s report which sets out recommendations for liberalising trade whilst safeguarding UK agriculture’s animal welfare and environmental standards.
The independent Commission was established in response to concerns from BVA and others that new free trade agreements (FTAs) had the potential to undermine the UK’s high standards, particularly in relation to animal welfare. Its recommendations will be considered by the UK Government, and BVA is asking for clarity on how they will be adopted in time to influence current negotiations.
Commenting, BVA President James Russell said:
“The Commission was given a very difficult task and we welcome the recommendations made today which set out a sensible short- and long-term approach to safeguarding the UK’s high animal welfare and environmental standards in future trade deals.
“The Commission rightly recognises that UK consumers care about how their food is produced and they expect the food they buy to meet UK standards.
“In the short term, the Commission recommends that tariff-free access to the UK market within FTAs should only be granted to those goods that meet our standards. This is a good first step and it’s essential that the Government commits to this approach in the current trade negotiations.
“But the Commission also recognises that we must go further. We support the call for the UK Government to lobby internationally through the World Trade Organization for reform of global standards with a view to introducing trade restrictions on welfare grounds.
“The UK has an opportunity to lead on the raising of standards internationally. We can, and should be, assertive in spreading animal welfare norms through trade deals and in international forums, drawing on veterinary expertise.”
The TAC report also recognises the role of the UK farm assurance schemes in opening up overseas markets for UK producers. Mr Russell added:
“Through our #ChooseAssured campaign, BVA champions the UK farm assurance schemes as a proxy for understanding the animal welfare and environmental standards that underpin UK agriculture. We welcome the recommendation that the UK can use these schemes to demonstrate leadership on animal welfare at a global level, and the role the veterinary profession plays in meeting these higher standards.”