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A lucrative new export deal has been agreed between China and the UK.

A £45million export agreement for thoroughbreds and sport horses was formalised earlier this month (1 April) at a meeting between Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Chinese Minister for Import Controls Zhi Shuping in Newmarket.

The Horse Protocol will allow for the export of equines — mostly thoroughbreds and sport horses — to China shortly.

The equestrian industry is growing in China, in racing and sports sectors as well as in leisure (news, 31 January 2013).

Minister Zhi said: “Riding, breeding and training horses is increasingly popular in China, so this deal will ensure that we can make the most of the UK’s world-famous thoroughbreds in boosting our burgeoning equine industry.”

Mr Paterson, who said the deal would boost the British economy by up to £10m, added: “This once again demonstrates the value of our global reputation for high-quality exports.”

The British Horseracing Authority’s Paul Bittar said the agreement was a “positive step” for the British racing and breeding industries, as well as the wider equine sector.

He added: “Britain has a great deal to offer in terms of the quality of both our horses and expertise, and we look forward to developing this partnership.”

Claire Williams of the British Equestrian Trade Association said this was a “crucial step forward”.

“The Chinese market has seen rapid growth with the number of horses imported rising from 8,000 in 2012 to 17,000 in 2013,” she said.

“Not only does it open the way for horse exports, but it is also a significant help opening the market for equestrian equipment, facilities and expertise that goes alongside them.”

Following the signing of the protocol an Export Health Certificate will need to be agreed before exports can commence, which may take several months.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (17 April 2014)