Hope for African Elephants in the TPP


John Brinkley, Forbes

Date Published
Here’s an aspect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that no one can complain about: it may help save African elephants from extinction. The TPP’s environmental chapter would require the 12 parties to the agreement to crack down on illegal trade in elephant ivory and other wildlife products or risk trade sanctions, according to the office of the U.S. trade representative. How well that will work remains to be seen. Making a determination that, say, Malaysia is complicit in the trafficking of ivory, then enacting a retaliatory tariff that’s likely to withstand a challenge in an international tribunal would be a long and arduous process. Then there’s the fact that China, the world’s largest ivory market, is not a party to the TPP. But the government is taking steps of its own to stop the illegal trafficking of ivory – or says it is. It announced in May that that it “eventually” would ban the processing and sale of ivory products within its borders. Immediately would be preferable to eventually, but the latter is better than nothing. China would like to join the TPP at some point and that may be one of the reasons they’ve had a change of heart about ivory trade. The Chinese have not said when they would implement the ban, but they seem to be serious about it. “I don’t think they would have come out publicly” and said they would implement a ban if they didn’t really intend to do so, said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for conservation at the World Wildlife Fund. Also, the government is being pressured by younger Chinese people who object to the elephant slaughter, thanks in part to the public outreach efforts of the former NBA player Yao Ming, the actor Jackie Chan and other Chinese celebrities.