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The authorities will engage stakeholders and are working out details of the implementation, he told Parliament in response to a question from Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Louis Ng.
Dr Koh did not provide a timeframe for the ban on domestic trade to be introduced.
In the meantime, the buying and selling of ivory here is allowed. Since 1990, however, the commercial import and export of ivory has been banned, although non-commercial import and export – such as for museum display and research – is still allowed with the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority’s approval and documentation.
Singapore was recently flagged as a “country of primary concern” for its role as a transit point for illegal ivory trade from Africa to other Asian countries by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.
Through data from 2012 to 2014, Traffic placed Singapore in the same group as Malaysia, Malawi and Togo. It noted that the countries rarely made ivory seizures and were seldom implicated in seizures made by others.
But where there were seizures, the cases tended to involve large quantities. This group of countries had the greatest proportion of seizures that weighed 800kg or more, suggesting that the bulk of smuggled ivory was part of higher-level organised crime activity, said Traffic.
Singapore has handled 12 cases of illegal ivory import or transshipment in the past decade, with about 10 tonnes of ivory from countries such as Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and the United States seized.