5 May 2016
Exporters welcome report prioritising the resumption of Saudi sheep exports
THE Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council has welcomed a new parliamentary report which makes a key recommendation aimed at facilitating the resumption of Australian sheep exports to Saudi Arabia.
The Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released the report for its inquiry on Australia’s trade and investment relationships with countries of the Middle East on Wednesday (May 4, 2016).
The Committee’s report included consideration of ongoing and potential livestock export opportunities and the impact that the implementation of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) has had on Middle Eastern markets. This includes Saudi Arabia, which does not participate in ESCAS and, as such, has not imported Australian livestock since 2012.
ALEC chief executive officer Alison Penfold said the report outlined the Committee’s recommendation for the Australian Government to explore, in conjunction with the Government of Saudi Arabia, the potential to appoint an independent auditor to monitor the implementation of ESCAS to meet Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty concerns.
“Livestock exporters welcome the Parliament’s focus on re-establishing the export of Australian sheep to Saudi Arabia,” Ms Penfold said.
“Historically, the Saudi market has played a very significant role in Australia’s sheep export industry. Naturally, we are very keen to get that trade up and running again with the addition of commercial through-chain oversight and control of animal welfare.”
Ms Penfold said that she hoped there is a willingness by governments to consider alternative but equivalent welfare assurance solutions and that discussions could be reinvigorated in the not too distant future in the context of the Memorandum of Understanding on the livestock export trade between Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She said it was worth noting that in the absence of any Australian livestock, Saudi Arabia is currently importing eight million head annually from markets like the Sudan, but has indicated strong interest in a sizeable intake of Australian livestock annually.
“I’m confident a mutually acceptable solution can be found which not only respects Saudi sovereignty but is also consistent with welfare assurance requirements, international OIE animal welfare standards and Saudi Arabia’s own animal welfare laws,” Ms Penfold said.
“As the report points out, it is important that we don’t overlook the importance of live exports to the Middle East. Not only is the trade a vital part of the overall success of Australia’s sheep industry, but it also helps ensure the delivery of quality sheepmeat to dinner tables of Middle Eastern families.”
“The four pillars of animal welfare assurance – traceability, control, international welfare standards and independent auditing – remain as relevant and important as ever. It is because of that fact, rather than despite it, we are determined to re-enter the Saudi market.”
(To view a copy of the Committee’s report, visit: http://www.aph.gov.au/jfadt)
A PDF version of this statement is available here: ALEC Media 05052016 – Exporters welcome report prioritising Saudi market
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