Wildlife Trade on the Agenda at Key Africa-China Meeting
Government representatives from across Africa meet their counterparts in China this week in what TRAFFIC regards as a critical opportunity to make sure the rising trade in wildlife products between Africa and China is both legal and sustainable.
China is Africa’s largest trading partner, with overall trade values estimated to be more than a trillion Chinese Yuan (USD 160 billion) per annum. The rising power of China within the African continent creates multiple opportunities for growth in trade between key African countries and China, including within the wildlife trade sector–the trade of wild fauna and flora products, including timber and fisheries.
According to Dr Jianbin Shi, Head of TRAFFIC’s Programme in China “Sustainable utilization of Africa’s wildlife resources can lead to positive development and growth for trading partners, while unsustainable wildlife trade depletes Africa of its natural wealth, and illegal trade inevitably leads to a growth in organized criminal activities, with the potential to create political instability.”
This week’s 5th Ministerial Conference of Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) provides an opportunity for countries to change the wildlife trade dynamics from Africa to China, leading to a significant reduction in illegal trade and supporting the sustainable trade in Africa’s wild plants and animals, says TRAFFIC.
These positive results can be achieved through enhancing governance along the entire trade chain for wildlife commodities, from source to end user through providing targeted financial support from China to African nations, TRAFFIC believes.
Following each of the four earlier FOCAC Africa-China Ministerial conferences, significant financial investment has been pledged to support agriculture and rural development in Africa, including investments in development of forestry and fisheries.
Although the rapid growth in Chinese investment and aid in Africa has largely been welcomed, there are concerns over the levels of unregulated trade in natural resources, including those involving timber and fisheries, while poaching of Africa’s elephants is running at records levels.