14 November, 2011 18:36
President Jacob Zuma has asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to review its ban on the import of South African horses and meat produce, the presidency said.
During a meeting with UAE President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Hahayn Zuma raised concerns that the export restrictions had not been resolved, the department said in a statement.
Zuma is in the Gulf States on State visits in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Muscat in Oman.
The department said the Middle East was South Africa's biggest trading partner for horse exports -- the majority being endurance horses -- and on average exports 100 horses a year to the Middle East.
"The UAE suspended direct imports of horses from South Africa following the outbreak of African Horse Sickness in 2004 and since then all exports had to be routed via the EU or Mauritius, which increased costs by about 150 percent and made South African horses less competitive."
The UAE has also banned the importation of South African livestock and meat (fresh and frozen meat products) due to the prevalence of Foot-and-Mouth disease and Rift Valley Fever.
"President Zuma said the two governments should intensify discussions to resolve the matter," said the presidency.
It said South Africa and the UAE maintained a good defence relationship characterised by the exchange of high-level visits and joint training.
Zuma requested the UAE government to send a delegation to South Africa to conduct an inspection visit and to investigate the country's control systems.
"In June 2011, a protocol was submitted to the UAE government to propose direct export of horses following a 40-day quarantine period at the Kenilworth Quarantine Station in Cape Town."
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