RSPCA Warns that Saudi Concession Will Lead to an ESCAS House of Cards

RSPCA Australia is warning the Australian Government that making concessions under the ESCAS framework in order to resume trade with Saudi Arabia will dismantle the entire system.

In a report on Australia’s trade and investment relationships with the Middle East, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade recommended that the Australian Government examine whether an independent auditor could help resume the live sheep trade with Saudi Arabia.

Live sheep have not been exported to Saudi Arabia from Australia since the introduction of ESCAS in 2012.

If Saudi Arabia is granted an exemption from ESCAS, the Government is undermining the entire system.

Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE all operate under ESCAS. If the Government grants one concession what is stopping other countries from demanding the same?

Australia could even be find itself in breach of the ‘most favoured nation’ principle under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade if equivalent concessions are not granted to other countries.

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