BRITAIN SHOULD use its high animal welfare standards in farming as a trade barrier against countries where standards are lower, according to Andrew George, Lib Dem shadow agricultural minister.

“The UK should establish non-fiscal trade barriers, not only on food safety, but also on animal welfare,” Mr George told a farmers weekly Question Time session at the Show.

WELFARE

In reply, junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty said that the issue of animal welfare has been brought up by the EU in the WTO.

“The problem is that many of our trading partners regard even our safety and disease measures as hidden barriers to trade,” he said. “

We seek to maintain certain non-trade issues – among which is our animal welfare. The EU negotiating team in the Doha round observes the right to insist on certain welfare standards or otherwise to support those partners who are disadvantaged by different levels of animal welfare.”

FREE TRADE

Conservative shadow agriculture minister Jim Paice said that the Conservatives are in favour of free trade as long as it is fair trade. He argued that there are already good precedents for UK deploying non-fiscal barriers.

“We don”t import various species for conservation reasons, so trade can be fettered,” he said.