Veterinary authorities from both countries finalised the health certification requirements needed to allow the trade on 2 July. The agreement means Egypt can now import breeding cattle, sheep and goats from Australia, in addition to animals for slaughter.
“The opening of this market for breeder livestock with Egypt is another positive development for cattle and sheep producers. Breeder livestock from Australia will help to improve existing herds in Egypt,” said Australian minister for agriculture Barnaby Joyce.
“These new agreed requirements will provide their producers with confidence in the health of the stock that will lead to improvements in the productivity and genetic vigour of their livestock,” he added.
Wider Middle East push
The Australian government has been working hard to expand meat and animal exports to the Middle East. Earlier this year Joyce visited Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in an effort to build on the recent reopening of trade in meat with Bahrain.
Exports to Egypt had been shut down in 2013 following release of video footage showing extreme mistreatment of cattle in Egyptian abattoirs. In response Egyptian authorities adopted the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (Escas), which guarantees animal welfare standards.
“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. Escas is designed so that Australian exported livestock are treated in line with international animal welfare standards throughout the entire supply chain,” said Joyce in March this year.
Welfare standards still questioned
In June, the Green Party in Australia attempted to put a stop to exports to Egypt, claiming animals were still being mistreated. Green Party MPs focused in particular on the use of full-inversion slaughter boxes in Egypt, currently allowed under Escas regulations, but illegal in Australia and many other countries.
The Greens attempted to stop the exports through a motion in the Australian senate, but failed to see the motion passed. Joyce said the attempt was irresponsible, and an attempt to attack the entire Australian live export industry.
“Egypt is demanding Australian cattle, yet the Greens would stand in the way of this and prefer to see Egypt import cattle from nations with no ESCAS arrangements and no international animal welfare standards,” said Joyce.