SOUTH African Equine Health & Protocols (SAEHP) remains confident that South Africa now fully meets or exceeds all of the international disease control standards needed to allow direct trade in equines with the EU and any racing or breeding jurisdiction in the world.

Adrian Todd, MD of SAEHP, said in a statement released on Monday: “I agree wholeheartedly with Mike de Kock’s recent comments stating that South Africa’s inability to compete on equal terms with other racing nations and to directly trade bi-laterally with said nations, is a huge contributing factor to the decline of the SA racing and breeding industry. Until this is resolved the industry will continue to decline.”

To recap, South Africa ceased to trade directly with the EU in 2011 due to an outbreak of AHS within the surveillance zone which led to an automatic two-year ban which was compounded by South Africa subsequently failing an EU audit in 2013.

“It was an audit SA deserved to fail, our risk control measures were just not up to standard,” stated Todd. “SA clearly needed to significantly improve communication, coordination and processes between state and industry to meet the failings outlined in the 2013 audit.”

South Africa had recurring outbreaks of AHS within the surveillance zone in 2013 and 2016 and as such was unable, based on the existing protocols with the EU, to directly send horses out to compete and/or to trade with the EU and other racing nations who take a lead from the EU.

In effect, at no time from the 2011 outbreak to June 2018 would it have been possible for South Africa to trade directly with the world. Simply put, SA was under suspension due to disease outbreaks and sufficient risk control measures were not in place.

SAEHP was formed with a sole focus of working hand in hand with South African veterinary authorities and bringing South Africa’s AHS control measures up to world standard and convincing the importing countries of South Africa’s competence in implementing controls that ensure safe and sustainable exports. 

Todd stated that it had been expected that an EU inspection would follow almost immediately after the two-year ban was up in June 2018 as had happened in previous years. However, given the time lag from 2013, a different process entails within the EU, and it is this process that is now being pursued.  

Todd, however, feels that the delay was inadvertently to South Africa’s advantage. “The delay, whilst a huge frustration, gave us valuable time to make 100% sure that everything was up to standard. Having waited so long, the importance of not tripping up at the final hurdle is paramount. A second failed audit would dash the hopes of direct exports for many a year,” he said. 

“SAEHP and DAFF are confident that the controls in place are world class, it was South Africa’s inability to comply with international standards that led to us not being able to export, now we are ready! We are working hard with multiple government departments to lobby our cause and get the EU here to see what we have achieved. This is the first time that we have been really ready to trade directly without risk, and the final hurdle is the political push to secure an audit that validates this. We know too, that other racing and breeding jurisdictions are eager for SA’s status with the EU to be resolved and have shown a willingness trade directly with South Africa once our EU status is clarified.” Todd concluded. 

Pic: Dan Kitwood/Getty.

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