The direct export of Irish horses to China has moved a step closer with the agreement of the Chinese authorities to the terms of a veterinary certificate to control the process.
Last June, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney signed a protocol with Chinese Vice-Minister Wei Chuanzhong which paved the way for the export of Irish horses to China subject to certain agreed animal health guarantees and a pre-export quarantine.
Up to now, any Irish horses exported to China had to go to the Netherlands first, which added to the cost for Irish breeders.
Mr Coveney said this latest step was very good news for the equine industry. Last year he announced a €40 million export tie-in with China's first national equine facility, based in Tianjin, when he led a trade mission to China. The deal marked the first Chinese government involvement with an overseas joint venture in horse racing and breeding.
The venture initially needs between 600 and 800 thoroughbreds, as well as mares and stallions for its breeding programme. Coolmore Stud in Tipperary is playing a key role in the venture.