(Reuters) - Australia has agreed to relax restrictions imposed on the travel of horses from Hong Kong, ending a two-year stand-off between the two countries, the Hong Kong government said on Monday, confirming a report from the South China Morning Post.
The movement of horses between the jurisdictions was frozen in 2017 after the Hong Kong Jockey Club's (HKJC) addition of a training facility in mainland China, which sparked Australian concerns over biosecurity.
Australian horses have been allowed to travel to Hong Kong under normal quarantine rules after the two sides reached an interim agreement in March, but horses from Hong Kong could only travel to Australia after spending 180 days in a third country.
The Australian Department of Agriculture (ADA), in October, assessed the HKJC's Conghua training facility, which is in an equine disease-free zone (EDFZ) in mainland China's Guangdong province, and has now said it meets import standards.
"The assessment concluded that the suite of biosecurity controls that are in place met Australia's import standards and that accordingly Hong Kong should regain its status as an approved jurisdiction for the export of horses to Australia," Hong Kong government said in a statement.
The ruling means horses can now be transported between Australia and Hong Kong in accordance with the same conditions that were in place before movement was restricted in October 2017.
"This is another strong endorsement of the robustness of biosecurity within the EDFZ and the high-health status of our racehorses at Conghua," HKJC Executive Director of Racing Andrew Harding said.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings and Silvia Recchimuzzi in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christian Radnedge)