Live sheep have not been exported from Australia to Saudi Arabia since 2012, but that is set to change with new optimism between businesses in both nations.
The trade stopped, as Saudi Arabia felt that Australia's standards for supply chain control and animal welfare impinged on its sovereignty. Australia's Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) is based on four principles:
• Animal welfare: animal handling and slaughter in the importing country conforms to World Organization for Animal Health animal welfare recommendations
• Control through the supply chain: the exporter has control of all supply chain arrangements for livestock transport, management and slaughter. All livestock remain in the supply chain
• Traceability through the supply chain: the exporter can trace all livestock through the supply chain
• Independent audit: the supply chain in the importing country is independently audited.
ESCAS calls for sharp knives (sharpening between each animal), single cuts of the throat (not repetitive blunt hacking), effective restraint to minimize animal stress and make the cut more efficient and low stress animal handling. However, the standards do not require that animals are stunned before having their throats cut, as many animal welfare groups believe is necessary for humane killing.
“Historically, the Saudi trade has played a significant role in our sheep exports, and we’re working with the Federal Government to re-open that market, says Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) CEO Simon Westaway.
At this stage, detailed inter-government discussions have not been held, but businesses in both countries are making progress towards a restart, reports Sheep Central, with ALEC Chairman Simon Crean saying that ESCAS standards would have to be upheld.