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A member of the founding CTS team, ADRIAN TODD has left his position as MD of CTS to head up the Horse Import/Export Task Team (HIETT)  chaired by Chris van Niekerk.  We spoke to Todd about his all-important function, how to separate real news from fake news in regard to the protocols, how far we are from our final destination and what to expect in the next 12 months.

Adrian, you’ve brought CTS a long way in the last five years. There have been turbulent times and a number of changes to the status quo and the sales calendar. Let’s start with your views on where CTS finds itself today, where you believe it is heading under Wehann Smith and what you think the future holds:

AT: Yes, CTS has come a long way in the last five years, I have been in the very fortunate position to have great mentors and to have worked with a wonderful team. There have been a number of changes to the status quo, which I believe are all positive over the long term. The rationalisation of the sales calendar and the reduction of the number of sales are  very positive step for the industry.

CTS finds itself in a position with a solid bench of supporters, both vendors and buyers, a passionate board of directors, excellent systems in place developed over the years by Amanda Carey, a world class reputation and a brand that is known worldwide. 

Apart from being a good friend, Wehann is a very competent leader, he will no doubt continue with the innovative ideas that CTS is known for, along with world class service and CTS will continue to grow the brand worldwide.

Over the last few years you’ve actually grown into the position that you now occupy. As MD of CTS you started new negotiations on the import/export protocols and investigated fresh options worldwide. Tell us about the period that preceded your new appointment.

 In 2015 CTS and BSA jointly held a workshop to try and find the way forward with the export protocols. The result of that workshop was the Import/Export Task Team, chaired by Chris van Niekerk. In the process Chris and I became very involved in the day to day activities of the Task Team. We realised that while progress was being made, constant attention, Government interaction and lobbying was needed. In short the Task Team had become a full time job.

We seem to have gone in monotonous circles on this issue for the last 15 years at least. What was the reason for this apparent treading of water, we never seemed to make any kind of tangible progress?

I know it can feel that way. However everything that has happened in the past has led us to this point. Even two years ago we were not in the position that we are in now. There have been a lot of people working very hard behind the scenes to get to the stage we find ourselves at now. The advent of the PCR test is new, the discovery that the AHS cases in the controlled areas were vaccine related. All of these things are new scientific developments, that’s progress. The Equine Health Fund and the Western Cape Epidemiology unit have created new systems to capture and process data. Movement and vaccine control have all improved.  Along with the Equine Research Centre they have taken us to this point where we can really push for change.

In some quarters racing and breeding enthusiasts believe that two or three individuals, namely veterinarians in Australia, have stood between South Africa and open protocols recently, and thatthe EU has not been the problem. Do you agree with that? Have specific individuals made it hard for us to achieve our goals?

There may be some people who have a different perspective of the risk than others. I can say that AUSHORSE have been very helpful and supportive.

In a nutshell, without getting too scientific, explain what has led to the more open attitude and a willingness evident in the international community recently? We’ve seen some positive comments from Hong Kong, in particular.

There is a genuine desire to trade with South Africa, also don’t underestimate the scientific advances that have been made. The world is becoming a smaller place.

Again, on the scientific side, is the AHS question considered fully under control with the acknowledgement of the Guthrie tests?

The Guthrie test is one of the recent PCR tests that have been accepted for use in trade by the OIE. This is another arrow in the quiver. A very important one, coupled with the risk assessment study and some other advances we now have a sound and clear path. It’s a matter of negotiating with each individual trading partner on a one on one basis. 

What are the next steps to be taken internationally? How much remains to be done to “drive things over the line” as you said in a recent press release.

The protocols discussion differs from the EU to other countries. South Africa has an existing protocol with the EU which relies on the zone concept, subject to passing the next EU audit that protocol will be back on track. The lockdown protocol is what we are taking to the rest of the world. This will need to be negotiated with each trading partner. 

It has been announced that an official EU commission will be coming to South Africa in 2018. What exactly will they be looking for? Will this be a be-all, end-all visit?

It’s the official audit to check if SA is compliant with the requirements of the EU; these visits are the prerogative of any country or group of countries that have trade protocols in place. We can expect similar visits from other trade partners going forward.

In other words, we’ll be able to negotiate with countries out of the EU on a different basis and perhaps with different stipulations over which the EU will have no veto?

Of course, the EU is the original partner that SA concluded a protocol with in recent history.  We however also have a protocol with the US. The EU is a block of member countries. We can negotiate with non-member countries on terms that suit the negotiating parties.  

It has also been said that we could be shipping bloodstock everywhere from as early as December 2018. Clear this up. Is this a given, or does it depend entirely on the EU findings?

We hope to be shipping directly to the EU within that timeframe.

Plenty of expectation has been created. Is there a what if? What if, for example, we have an outbreak of AHS a week before protocols are lifted. Would that change things?

Under the current EU protocol yes it would, however it would have no bearing on lockdown negotiations with other countries. 

We’re all excited about the benefits that open protocols will bring. Do you believe we’ll see a major influx of buyers and a seriously big demand for our bloodstock if we are finally free to trade. Mike de Kock has said that “the floodgates will open”. Do you agree?

I think the key word here is trade, open protocols will result in a massive growth of a two way trade. South Africa will then be playing in the same park as the rest of the thoroughbred world.

Photo: Adrian Todd.