RSPCA warns that Saudi concession will lead to an ESCAS House of Cards

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Sheep Central is today reporting that one of the world’s largest live export companies is warning that Australia’s unwillingness to compromise its ESCAS standards is risking access to the lucrative Saudi Arabian sheep market.

Emanuel Exports Managing Director Graham Daws was quoted as saying that Australia’s insistence on countries meeting ESCAS standards before they received Australian animals was a ‘belligerent attitude.’

There is nothing belligerent about seeking animal welfare assurances.

Live sheep have not been exported to Saudi Arabia since 2012 because the Saudi Government will not accept the basic premise of Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.

Granting Saudi Arabia an exemption from ESCAS by ‘re-forming’ the system would place the entire scheme in jeopardy.

Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE all currently operate under ESCAS. Granting an exemption to one country will likely prompt these and others to seek exemptions as well.

This would increase the risk to both the welfare of Australian live-exported animals as well as the integrity of the scheme, and undermining the very purpose for which the program was established.

Australia could even be find itself in breach of the ‘most favoured nation’ principle under World Trade Organisation rules if concessions are made for Saudi Arabia but equivalent concessions aren’t then extended to other countries.

The ESCAS system is only as strong as its constituent parts. Remove one card and the whole house will collapse.