The Federal Government's Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) has now been extended to cover 99 percent of Australia's livestock export trade, after seven new markets were included in the protocol on Saturday, September 1.
Israel, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have now been included in the system, joining Indonesia, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey.
Exporters can only supply livestock to feedlots and abattoirs approved by the Australian Government in those markets from now on.
All remaining markets, including Brunei, Mauritius and Russia, will be included in the mandatory ESCAS system from January 1, 2013.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the Gillard Government was committed to the live export trade where acceptable animal welfare outcomes can be achieved.
The trade supported jobs, families and communities throughout Australia, Minister Ludwig said.
"The exporter supply chain assurance system (ESCAS) puts animal welfare at the heart of the trade. By doing so, it helps to secure a strong future for our livestock export industry and those who rely on it."
The 1 September implementation of ESCAS to Tranche 2 markets meets the timelines set out in the Government's response to the Independent Review of Australia's Livestock Export Trade conducted by Mr Bill Farmer AO and by the Industry-Government Working Group.
"Under ESCAS, livestock may only be exported into approved supply chains; must be traced from start to finish and treated at, or better than, internationally agreed welfare standards; and supply chains must be independently audited to verify ongoing compliance," Minister Ludwig said.
"The Government will continue to work with industry, exporters and our trading partners to continue the roll out of ESCAS and to set a benchmark that requires exporters to take responsibility for the welfare of animals throughout their supply chain."
Australia is the only country to introduce reforms that require specific animal welfare conditions for its exported livestock.
A spokesperson for DAFF told Beef Central on Friday that it was working closely with exporters to assist them in progressing their ESCAS arrangements for a number of Tranche 2 countries in accordance with their commercial priorities.
However, the department said specific information regarding the status of exporter applications to export was commercial in confidence, and would not provide information on whether exporters had yet achieved accreditation in any of the tranche 2 markets.
A number of export industry sources told Beef Central last month that complications involving the implementation of ESCAS were likely to stall the recovery of exprts to the former major market of Saudi Arabia.