Member States of the European Union (EU) are required to submit annual reports detailing their trade in species listed in the CITES Appendices and the Annexes of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. This report provides a detailed analysis of the trade data submitted by EU Member States and candidate countries in their annual reports for 2012.
Overview of EU trade
The numbers of import and export transactions reported by the EU have increased over the period 2003-2012, reaching 100 000 import transactions and nearly double that number of export transactions in 2012. The majority of the export transactions reported by the EU in 2012 were re-exports.
Live plants were the commodity imported and exported in the highest quantities by the EU in 2012, of which the majority were artificially propagated. Reptile leather products, which were principally wild-sourced, were also traded at notable levels as both imports and exports. Other top commodities in trade included imports of plant derivatives (stems and leaves) and exports of live fish eggs.
The top commodities imported by candidate countries in 2012 were wild-sourced Arctocephalus pusillus skins originating in Argentina. Live, wild-sourced plants were the commodities exported in the highest quantities by candidate countries.
Noteworthy patterns of trade
Trends in EU and candidate country imports of wild-sourced and ranched specimens were considered noteworthy according to the following criteria: high volume and/or sharp increases in imports in 2012; and overall increases/decreases or high variability in imports between 2003 and 2012.
In 2012, 81 taxa were selected on the basis of a noteworthy trend in trade reported by the EU; these include nine Annex A taxa, of which seven are mammals. Ten Annex B taxa met the criteria for selection on the basis of a high volume of trade or sharp increase in trade reported by candidate countries.
- Mammals: 20 (7 Annex A)
- Birds: 1
- Reptiles: 17 (2 Annex A)
- Amphibians: 1
- Fish: 1
- Invertebrates: 25 (including 20 corals)
- Plants: 17
Exports and re-exports
Wild-sourced exports originating in the EU in 2012 primarily involved mammal and bird taxa, the majority listed in Annex A. All wild-sourced Annex A taxa were exported for scientific or re-introduction purposes; the remainder mainly involved hunting trophies.
Many of the commodities exported at high volumes involved reptiles and plants; live sturgeon eggs, live plants and reptile skins and skin pieces were the commodities exported at the highest volumes overall. The number of reptile taxa traded at high volumes increased from 19 in 2011 to 29 in 2012, mainly due to an increase in exports of snake skins and live tortoises.
To estimate the monetary value of EU trade in CITES-listed animal species in 2012, species-specific value data (submitted to United States Customs and included within the United States annual report to CITES) were applied to EU-reported import and export volumes.
The value of animal imports (excluding caviar extract) in 2012 was estimated at approximately USD727 million (~EUR537 million). The most valuable commodities imported were leather products and skins; Switzerland is estimated to be the key EU trading partner by economic value. In the CITES context, trade in wild and ranched CITES-listed animals to the EU in 2012 was likely to be economically important for the top ten exporters by value (estimated to be over USD4 million each). Whilst six of these countries were “megadiversity” countries, aside from Indonesia and Australia (both of which exported >100 taxa in 2012), the estimated economic value for other top exporting countries was derived from relatively few taxa.
The value of animal exports (excluding caviar extract) in 2012 was estimated at approximately USD1.2 billion (~EUR913 million); around 70% higher than the estimated value of EU imports for the same year. Leather products were again the most valuable commodity exported; high value, luxury goods appear to represent a significant proportion of the overall value of the trade to and from the EU.
When caviar extract was analysed, the value of this high-end item was estimated at USD3.8 billion for imports and USD91 billion for exports. It is unclear whether this is an anomaly in the US Customs Dataset, although the value was based on over 400 value records.
EU imports of non-CITES taxa listed in the EU Annexes in 2012 principally comprised Annex D reptile skins, dried plants and plant derivatives, the majority of which were reported without a source or purpose specified. Species imported at notable levels include Elaphe carinata, with imports exceeding 100 000 skins every year 2009-2012 following considerably lower levels of trade in previous years, and Harpagophytum spp., with imports of roots and other derivatives peaking in 2012. Imports of live Pterapogon kauderni are of particular note, having increased four-fold between 2011 and 2012 to 23 537 live individuals, as the species is classified as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List.
Imports of seven non-CITES Annex A and B taxa were recorded by the EU in 2012, compared to only three in 2011; the top taxon in trade by quantity was Trachemys scripta elegans, imported as live specimens primarily for scientific purposes.
Six non-CITES taxa listed in the EU Annexes were exported in 2012; the majority of trade comprised live, captive-bred Columba livia traded for commercial purposes, although trade levels in this species decreased by 74% compared to 2011.