The RSPCA has called on the UK government for a lack of transparency on trade deal talks with New Zealand.
The charity has called for the trade agreement to ensure equivalent conditions on animal welfare standards with New Zealand as part of any deal, as a result, products which do not meet current UK standards cannot be imported into the country.
According to the RSPCA, the lack of transparency has set alarm bells about animal welfare protections in the UK, as trade talks with New Zealand enter its final phase.
Whilst, chief executive officer of the RSPCA, Chris Sherwood acknowledged New Zealand’s welfare standards are “higher and much closer” to the UK’s, he said any deal, or risk sending a signal that the UK’s animal welfare standards can be negotiated away in future trade deals with the likes of the US and Brazil.
“We have already seen in the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal with Australia that the government is willing to sacrifice our hard-won animal welfare standards to get a deal,” Sherwood said.
“If we do not set a line in the sand that makes any import of food equivalent to our welfare standards as a condition of this deal, we are sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we are willing to accept cheap imports reared in conditions which are illegal in the UK.”
He added that the RSPCA welcomed the free trade deals but does not want to see it as an opportunity to export our high welfare standards around the world.
As part of its manifesto commitment, the UK government promised to maintain and where possible, improve standards of animal welfare in the UK, particularly as new free trade agreements (FTAs) were negotiated.
Sherwood concluded: “In the past few years, there have been significant steps forward for animal welfare in this country and the government has committed to going even further.
“This deal offers the opportunity for the government to make good on its manifesto commitment and send a clear message to British consumers and the world that our standards are not for sale.”