Trade Talks with the US – Food Safety and Animal Welfare Concerns 3/20

Thank you for contacting me about food standards and the UK’s trade policy.  It is vital that people across the UK have confidence in the food that they eat, which is why I welcome the Government’s very clear commitment that future trade agreements must uphold our country’s high food standards. Four public consultations were launched in 2018 providing people with the opportunity to give their views (for example, on food standards) in potential future Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the USA, Australia, 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, proportionate consultation will be undertaken.

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. I am reassured that as the Government is working to transition these trade agreements on the closest possible terms to each original agreement, this process will not have an impact on food standards.

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 deals.

Outside the EU, the UK will have an independent seat at 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.

A consultation will also shortly be carried out on restricting live animal journeys, requiring approval for longer journeys and bringing forward welfare conditions for these journeys when they are necessary. This consultation follows a call for evidence in 2018 on improving animal welfare in transport and controlling live animal exports.