Thank you for contacting me about animal welfare standards and the UK’s trade policy.
All animals deserve to be respected and cared for throughout their lives, so I welcome the Government’s clear commitment that future trade agreements will uphold our country’s high animal welfare standards. These standards will not be watered down in pursuit of any trade deal.
Four public consultations were launched in 2018, providing people with the opportunity to give their views (for example, on animal welfare) in relation to how the UK should approach future Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and on the UK’s consideration of accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. All four consultations collectively attracted over 600,000 responses – making this one of the largest consultation exercises (by volume of responses) run by the UK Government. In any future potential trade agreement that the UK seeks to negotiate, the government will undertake proportionate consultation.
To provide continuity in our country’s existing trade relationships, the Government is transitioning existing EU trade agreements, to which our country is party, into UK law. As these trade agreements will be transitioned on the closest possible terms as each original agreement, this process will not have an impact on animal welfare standards.
Outside the EU, the UK will remain party to bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and others and will continue to promote improved animal welfare standards internationally.
I have been pushing for greater steps to be taken around labelling. Understanding how and where our food produce has been made is vital for a better understanding of the food we produce and the choices we arrive at when purchasing our food. The government has already moved significantly on this and I intend to continue to push harder.
It is also welcome that a Trade and Agriculture Commission has now been launched. The commission will ensure that the voices of the public and industry are heard, and that their interests are advanced and protected. It will advise the Government on how Britain can remain a world-leader in animal welfare and environmental standards, and how we can seize new export opportunities for our farmers.