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Pony Diplomacy in Peking

After two years of anxious anticipation and high-level negotiation between the USDA and China’s AQSIQ*, the Chinese market for American horses has finally re-opened. With Air Force One making its way towards China, pressure was on to ink a deal outlining quarantine requirements for Chinese owners seeking to import horses from the United States. With all terms agreed to, the Presidential visit was the final push needed to make it all happen.

Within the last two years, China’s thoroughbred racing market has showed promising growth, with Chinese owners making their presence known in sale rings around the world, all while making significant investments in racing infrastructure back home. Growth in equestrian sport has also picked up, with more than 1,400 membership-based equestrian clubs throughout China. While the US has missed out on two years of market expansion, even greater opportunity lies ahead - assuming we continue to share our knowledge and expertise with China’s next generation of owners and horsemen.

With the import protocol in place, American horses will once again be welcomed into China. How the horse trade will affect the overall US-China relationship is yet to be determined, but this week I am especially reminded of why I got into this business in the first place as Kentucky’s early representative in China. The Chinese believe you have to be friends before you can truly conduct business. Now with all barriers removed, it’s time to see how our shared passion for the horse can bring our two countries together through deeper cultural understanding, mutual respect and prosperity for all involved. And unlike ping-pong, where China is superior, the American equine industry has a lot to bring to the table.

* United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Chinese Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)

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