The RSPCA is calling on the Federal Government to act on recommendations of a report completed in May last year on Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).
The report was only made public last week, after the RSPCA lodged a freedom of information request, ABC Rural reports.
The report endorses draft recommendations that list strict guiding principles for selection, transport and handling of livestock.
The RSPCA's chief scientist, Bidda Jones, who was a member of the committee that reviewed the standards, wants the draft recommendations released for public consultation.
"The committee agreed to a number of significant changes, from the previous version, but there are also options in that draft, so there are some issues that the committee didn't reach agreement on."
She says the RSPCA wanted standards on stocking density changed to give animals more space, but the industry disagrees.
"We feel that if you put that out to public consultation, with those options, you've got a chance for people to express their views and then end up with a better standard," Jones said.
In a statement, the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, which was also represented on the review committee, says any changes to the standards must be based on science.
The council's CEO Alison Penfold said some of the proposals put by the RSPCA would make the live export trade uneconomical or uncompetitive without benefiting animal welfare.
"By way of example, RSPCA's claims about stocking densities are incorrect, demonstrate a lack of practical understanding of animal behaviour and manipulate animal welfare motives to make the trade unviable," Penfold said.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government was looking to improve the live export trade, but in a way that wouldn't shut it down.
"My department is currently at work investigating the issues that they believe need further investigation, but I'm not going into detail as to what our outcomes will be," Joyce said.
He said he wanted to see the live cattle and sheep trade expanded.
"It's vitally important for the price of cattle that we keep the live trade growing, otherwise we will be totally reliant on the processing sector and that means we get a depressed price.
"No matter how far I go there are some groups that will never be happy until we shut the industry down, and I'll tell you right now, I'm not going to do that," Joyce said.
Mining billionaire, Andrew Forrest said that Australia has fallen behind other export nations such as Brazil in the race to cater to China’s demand for beef.
Forrest said that Australia is at risk of repeating the same mistakes made within the iron ore industry which enabled countries such as Brazil to capitalise on billions in export sales.
Forrest said that as it stands, Australia is not properly playing to its strengths or competing strategically in the international marketplace.
Forrest bought Harvey Beef earlier this month in a deal believed to be worth $40m.
Harvey beef is WA’s biggest beef exporter, and the only one accredited for exports to China.