The UK Government has said they will maintain and, where possible, improve standards of animal welfare in the UK, particularly as new free trade agreements (FTAs) are negotiated, following the UK's exit from the EU.
The UK has higher animal welfare standards than most other prospective trade partners in virtually every area that is being negotiated, particularly with regards to on-farm standards and regulatory processes. It is therefore essential for the UK to be able to safeguard its current welfare standards and this can be done through mutual recognition of regulatory processes and conditional liberalisation for higher welfare animal-based products based on preferential tariffs, tariff rate quotas or non tariff measures.
A ground-breaking FTA must have a chapter on animal welfare, including detailed provisions on animal welfare cooperation based on the other trading partner at least on meeting the World Organisation for Animal Health fifteen animal welfare global standards as a minimum.
Any FTA should formally recognise the links between animal welfare and sustainable development (e.g. antimicrobial resistance) under the sustainable development chapter. The UK needs to adopt a transparent approach to these negotiations in agreeing its mandate, during negotiations and when adopting the FTA.
The RSPCA is committed to working with the UK and Devolved Governments - as well as our international colleagues, to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare are pursued post-Brexit and through any future Free Trade Agreements.