The UK has signed its biggest trade deal since Brexit, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The deal will allow tariff free trade between the UK and a bloc of 11 other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
CPTPP is a trade bloc that is populated by around half a billion people with a joint gross domestic product (GDP) of £9 trillion in 2021.
Despite extensive lobbying by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), the deal will allow imports of eggs from countries that permit conventional cage systems, which were banned in the UK in 2012. The BEIC said its biggest concern was Mexico. “Whilst Mexico does not export much today, this may not be the case in the future. Mexico has the world’s highest egg consumption per capita,” chief executive Mark Williams said in an email to members.
The RSPCA said it feared the trade deal would undermine UK animal welfare standards. “Many of CPTPP countries use methods of production which are illegal here, such as battery cages for laying hens. Worryingly, we now fear there will be nothing to stop those products being imported into the UK,” said RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles.
“Unless iron-clad safeguards on standards are produced, this deal is a huge concern. Animal welfare standards are not addressed in this Trans-Pacific trade bloc agreement nor seemingly in what the UK has negotiated. But if the UK Government is to honour its manifesto commitment to protect our leading standards, it must take steps to keep these products off our supermarket shelves.”