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FACT SHEET: Trade, Illegal Wildlife Trafficking, and National Security

TRADE PROTECTS AMERICAN JOBS AND AMERICAN FAMILIES. The United States has negotiated trade agreements that protect American innovation and demand high standards for goods. The Obama Administration has made clear that we will go to the mat for our businesses and families.

USING EXISTING AND FUTURE TRADE AGREEMENTS AND INITIATIVES TO PROTECT WILDLIFE. We will engage trading partner countries on a regional and bilateral basis under existing and future U.S. free trade agreements, environmental cooperation mechanisms, and other trade-related initiatives to take measures integrate wildlife trafficking and resource protection as priority areas for information exchange, cooperation, and capacity building. (Source: White House Fact Sheet)

ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING IS ON THE RISE, THREATENING NATIONAL SECURITY & ENDANGERING ANIMALS. Increased demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn has triggered dramatic and rapid upticks in poaching in Africa. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) estimates more than 20,000 African elephants were victims of poaching in 2013.  A report from CITES states, “poaching levels remain alarmingly high and continue to far exceed the natural elephant population growth rates, resulting in a further decline in elephant populations across Africa.”

COMBATING WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING ADDRESSES AN INTERNATIONAL CRISIS.  Criminal elements of all kinds, including terrorist organizations, are involved in poaching and transporting ivory and rhino horn across Africa.  There is evidence that some groups then trade wildlife products for weapons or safe haven. Some of these networks are likely the same or overlap with those that also deal in other illicit goods such as drugs.

WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING IS A GLOBAL THREAT THAT REQUIRES A GLOBAL SOLUTION. Through our agreements - the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) – the United States is working to expand global efforts that will combat wildlife trafficking.  In February, the President approved a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking that seeks to strengthen domestic and global enforcement; reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthen partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGO’s, private industry and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.

WINNING THIS FIGHT DEPENDS ON DEVELOPING THE RIGHT TOOLS AND TAKING ACTION.  The United States is implementing a ban on commercial elephant ivory trade to ensure that U.S. markets do not contribute to the decline of this iconic species.  The ban imposes new restrictions on the import, export and commercial sale of elephant ivory within in the U.S., with some limited exceptions. In the Transpacific Partnership, the United States is working to break ground by securing the first-ever obligations to combat wildlife trafficking.  Many of our TPP partners are already taking important steps, for example: seizing illegal shipments of ivory; increasing sanctions and penalties for wildlife trafficking; and launching demand reduction campaigns. TPP will create a framework for enhancing these efforts and increasing cooperation. 

OUR FRONT LINES KEEP US SAFE BUT ARE ALSO UNLOCKING OPPORTUNITY FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES. America’s agents, officers, and inspectors are the first line of enforcement for America’s trade rights.   They protect our borders and our citizens from unlawful imports – counterfeit products that threaten jobs, and unsafe products that threaten lives. They are not the faces you see when you board a plane, shop for groceries, or get into the checkout line – but they are the reason that those experiences are approached carefree by millions of Americans every day.