To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments of (1) China, (2) Vietnam, (3) India, and (4) other countries in Asia about banning the trade in endangered species and their products including (a) elephants, (b) big cats, (c) rhinoceroses, and (d) pangolins.
The UK is committed to the conservation and protection of wildlife. We work closely with other countries to promote wildlife conservation through our membership of international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES is an international agreement between 183 Parties, including China, Vietnam and India, to promote sustainable trade in wildlife and to ensure that no plant or animal species becomes extinct through overtrading.
CITES prohibits nearly all international trade in wild caught specimens of species considered to be threatened with extinction. These Appendix I species include pangolins, most elephant and rhino populations, and some big cat species. Species not currently threatened with extinction, but for which uncontrolled trade would not be sustainable, are included on CITES Appendix II and can only be traded internationally with the correct permits. Permits will only be granted if trade is considered not to be detrimental to the survival of the species.
Domestic trade is regulated by national laws and falls outside the scope of CITES. CITES cannot oblige Parties to prohibit domestic trade but it can encourage them to do so. In 2016 Parties were encouraged to close their domestic ivory markets.
In 2016 Dr Thérèse Coffey MP met the Chinese minister and attended the CITES Conference of the Parties, where she had further meetings including with the Vietnamese minister. The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP represented the UK government at the 3rd global Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) conference in Hanoi in 2016 and had bilateral meetings with Vietnam and China. Last October the UK hosted the 4th global IWT conference in London. Sixty-five of the seventy countries which attended, including China, India, Vietnam and the UK, reaffirmed their commitment to counter illegal trade and declared what further action they will be taking. The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP and Dr Thérèse Coffey MP met with a number of countries at the conference including Burma, China, Japan, Indonesia and Nepal.
In 2018, the British Embassy in Beijing ran a highly visible campaign, “End Wildlife Crime”, with public events delivered across China, some in conjunction with the local government authorities, and attended by 19,250 members of the public.
Embassies and High Commissions in many Asian countries play a key role in raising IWT issues with host governments. Officials and ministers discuss IWT with these countries in the margins of international meetings and during visits to the region. Most recently the Rt Hon Mark Field MP discussed IWT with senior members of the Vietnamese Government on a visit to the country.
China has taken positive action on closing its domestic ivory market, co-hosting a session on combatting the ivory trade at the 2018 IWT conference. However, last year China decided to adjust its 1993 legislation to allow the use of farmed tiger and rhino products in traditional medicine; following discussions with the UK and others the Chinese Government is reviewing that decision. We regularly discuss IWT with the Chinese authorities and will continue to raise our concerns with them.