A statement made available in New York on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of State, noted that U.S. and China are the two world’s largest markets for ivory.
“On Dec. 30, 2016, China announced its plans for implementing a ban on domestic commercial trade of ivory. This commitment follows the United States’ own near-total ivory ban enactment on July 6, 2016. We welcome China’s announcement. It sets an ambitious, but achievable, timetable to enact a near-total ban on domestic commercial sales of ivory by Dec. 31, 2017.
“The United States and China have worked closely on technical aspects of our respective bans to help close two of the largest markets for ivory sales in the world.
“The United States remains committed to the international consensus on the importance of shutting down domestic ivory markets in order to protect and conserve the world’s remaining populations of wild elephants.”
The U.S. regretted that over the past decade, elephant poaching had continued at unsustainable levels.
“The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimated that approximately 20 per cent of Africa’s remaining elephants were killed during that time, with as many as 20,000–30,000 killed annually.
“Elephant poaching is driven primarily by the illegal trade in ivory, which fuels part of the roughly 23 billion U.S. dollars in illegal wildlife trafficking each year – one of the five most lucrative illegal trades in the world, according to the UN Development Programme.
“Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping recognised the role that legal domestic ivory markets continued to play in supporting the illegal killing of animals, which led to their historic joint agreement in September 2015.”