The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) has agreed to lift the industry suspension on livestock exports to Egypt following agreement by the Australian and Egyptian Governments to move the market into the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), the CEO of ALEC, Alison Penfold said today.
“Back in 2013 when the industry placed the export suspension on the market following incidents of poor handling and cruelty, we made it clear to the Government and the public that reopening of the market would be dependent on a move to ESCAS and agreement around HGPs.
“While it is disappointing it has taken almost two years to gain agreement to do so, today’s announcement now provides clarity around market access and allows exporters to establish supply chains under ESCAS, the world’s only export supply chain assurance system.
“This change to ESCAS places responsibility for welfare in the hands of exporters rather than that responsibility being held by the Australian and Egyptian Governments as under the previous MOU.
“This gives exporters far more capacity to manage supply chain issues in a timely and effective manner.”
Ms Penfold said that exporters are considering their commercial options in the market including whether to recommence sheep exports.
“In the short term, exporters will look to have the existing closed loop facilities approved under ESCAS particularly as there is interest in supplying cattle to the market for Ramadan.
“But with Australia out of the market for the past two years, Brazil has moved in to at least one supply chain and with that comes little to no welfare standards or oversight underpinning their export operations and does little to improve welfare standards globally.
“Because of our regard for welfare, this puts Australian exporters at a competitive disadvantage.
“In relation to the possibility of sheep exports to the market, there will need to be infrastructure changes in existing facilities in order to handle large volumes of sheep. This means that the sheep trade is likely a medium to longer term proposition for exporters.
“Ultimately today’s decision provides yet another market opportunity for producers and exporters which is an important driver for increasing returns to all involved in the trade”.
Earlier today, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce confirmed that the Australian and Egyptian Governments had come to agreement on all matters to recommence the live cattle and sheep export trade between the two countries.
“It is a testament to the effectiveness of arrangements we have in place in other markets that the future livestock trade with Egypt will be based on ESCAS,” he said.
“ESCAS is designed so that Australian exported livestock are treated in line with international animal welfare standards throughout the entire supply chain.”
The introduction of ESCAS in Egypt replaces a government-to-government regulatory framework, and was a recommendation following a Department of Agriculture investigation report into allegations of mistreatment of cattle in two Egyptian abattoirs in May 2013.
ESCAS requires Australian exporters to establish supply chains which are consistent with World Organisation for Animal Health standards. The system has checks which have proven to deliver animal welfare outcomes, which a government-to-government system could not. As an OIE member Egypt recognises and respects the importance of safeguarding animal welfare.
“I welcome industry’s lifting of their voluntary suspension of livestock exports to Egypt. This is another important milestone for industry and opportunity for Australian producers who are doing it tough. It follows the recent reopening of the Bahrain market and delivers on our election commitment to reinvigorate the trade.
“It has been eight years since sheep were exported to Egypt and this provides a new opportunity for sheep producers.
“Work on market negotiations is continuously being progressed. Market access is, and will continue to be, a priority for the Australian Government,” Minister Joyce said.
Sheep have not been exported to Egypt since 2006, and cattle not since 2012.
Source: Federal Minister for Agriculture, Australian Livestock Exporters Council.
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