"I can't see anything at this stage that would stop it," said Rachelle Linwood, team manager for the animal imports and exports group with MAF Biosecurity New Zealand.
Submissions closed yesterday on a proposed new import health standard (IHS) for horses from Australia that would end the five-week quarantine - three weeks of which had to be spent in Australia and the remainder in New Zealand.
MAF Biosecurity received four submissions, all of which were positive.
Linwood said there was a greater than 98 per cent likelihood that horse imports can resume from Australia without quarantine before January 17, which was the target date when the proposed IHS was first issued on November 21.
MAF Biosecurity would be issuing the IHS as provisional today.
During the week starting January 5 the department intends issuing the standard as final, meaning quarantine-free trade can resume.
The lifting of quarantine will allow the resumption of seaborne horse movements, which is the cheapest option for horse owners bringing animals across the Tasman.