After officially ceasing the import of processed ivory made before it signed on to an international convention against the trade of endangered species in February of 2015, China recently released a notice stating that it would terminate the processing and sale of ivory and ivory-related products for commercial purposes by the end of this year.
The notice, released by the General Office of the State Council of China, drew comments from the spokesperson for the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who noted that since the signing of the treaty, authorities have been ‘exercising strict control over import and export as well as domestic trade in ivory,’ and have ‘successively ceased the import of ivory sculptures, ivory souvenirs for hunting and ivory products made before the signing of the convention,’ according to the spokesperson.
In a further bid to stop the trade, the country ‘will encourage more international forces to join us in elephant protection,’ noted the spokesperson, while on the home-front, pushing to ‘step up efforts’ against the processing, sale, transport and smuggling of the products.
No ivory in 2016
According to a response by the Macau Customs Service to Business Daily’s enquiries, during the whole year of 2016, the service ‘did not seize any ivory or ivory products,’ and has ‘kept strict control at all ports’. In an effort to inhibit smuggling activities, the ‘patrols of vessels and people have been strengthened in the area of maritime and coastal patrols,’ noted the response.
In line with China’s statements that it would ‘bring about collective actions by source, transit and consumption countries, cut off the profit chain of illegal hunting and trade, and effectively crack down on illegal activities such as poaching and illegal trade in ivory,’ the local authority noted that it ‘tries to intercept the illegal import and export of ivory through exchange of information and intelligence’ by maintaining open ‘communication and co-operation with the international and neighbouring regions’ and ‘will also actively co-operate with the Central Government to curb’ the import of ivory and processed ivory products.
The Customs Service noted that since its establishment ‘we have seized 16 cases involving ivory or ivory products and seized about 1,300 kilogrammes of these products’.
According to current laws, falling under the provisions relating to the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Regulations, applicable to the MSAR, ‘a person who fails to comply’ with the provisions relating to the trade of a sample of animal or plant listed under the convention ‘shall be liable to a fine of between MOP500 (US$62.5) and MOP5,000’ and the goods ‘are also declared to belong to the region,’ notes the response.
The seized ivory is then transferred to the Macau Economic Services, under current regulations, who ‘in the event of a violation of the provisions of the law […] will, in accordance with the law, impose a fine and dispose of the goods’.