Valuation methodology overview

On the basis of the species coverage, level of detail, consistency of the dataset and probable comparability to EU prices, the “Declared U.S. Dollar Value” data included in the United States CITES annual reports were used as the basis for calculations of the value of EU imports and (re-)exports of CITES-listed species. The United States is a major importer and exporter of CITES-listed species and therefore Customs data included price data for a high number of CITES species in trade. Using EU-reported trade data derived from the CITES Trade Database, the United States price data were extrapolated to calculate the value of EU-reported trade in CITES-listed animals.

United States price data

The “Declared U.S. Dollar Value” is the amount in United States dollars declared by the trader at the point of export from or import to the United States. The Declared U.S. Dollar Value data for cleared items (Status = “CL”) provided in the United States CITES annual reports[1] for the years 2008-2012 were used. Both import and export price data were included in the analysis.

On account of limited price data, plants were excluded from the overall analysis; it is hoped that plant price datasets can be improved in the future to address this issue.

Data for animals were standardised to comply with CITES accepted codes[2]. Units and source codes were converted or grouped (in the cases of some sources) to allow for more meaningful analysis. All sources and purposes were included in the analysis.

Price per taxon per year (2008-2012) was corrected for inflation by using a conversion factor[3] to express prices as estimates of U.S. dollars in 2012.

The median USD price for each family/unit/source/term combination was calculated. Family-level price data were used so that median prices would be based on a higher number of records, thus providing a more robust price estimate. Furthermore, calculations done at the family level provided value data for a higher proportion of trade records in EU importer data.

[1] As transmitted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and reflecting the amounts reported by traders via USFWS 3-177 forms.

[2] See CITES Notification No. 2011/019.

EU-reported data

Trade data were extracted from the CITES Trade Database on 9th May 2014 to determine trade volumes as reported by EU importers and (re-)exporters in 2012. All terms, sources and purposes were included.

Calculating the value of EU trade

To estimate the monetary value of EU imports and (re-)exports of CITES-listed animal species, the median price value for each family/unit/source/term combination was multiplied by the EU reported trade volume.

Where the family median was based on a small number of records within the United States price dataset (<5 records) or where price data were unavailable for a family/unit/source/term combination (e.g. because the United States had not traded in the taxon in question), proxy values were used. An example of typical proxy would be using the median price for the order/source/unit/term combination or the same family/unit/term combination but for trade in a similar but different source. For those commodities where a suitable proxy could not be found (i.e. there was no comparable proxy with sufficient price records to be valid), the trade was excluded.

The price dataset initially included 529 112 relevant price records for animal species. Median price values were subsequently calculated for 1654 family/unit/source/term combinations. The final EU importer data used included 102 124 trade records, with 2178 records with no price data available. The final EU (re-)exporter data used included 247 083 trade records, with 1187 records with no price data available. Family median values were calculated for 98% of both import and (re-)export records.


A number of assumptions were made in order to undertake the calculations for this report:

  • Only price data from United States “cleared” imports and exports were used, which were then extrapolated to estimate the value of EU trade. However, in reality there will be price differences between countries for the same species and there will be differences in the quality of products, leading to price differences. There may also be incentives for traders to under-value trade on USFWS 3-177 forms in some cases. However, it is important to note that the estimate of economic value of EU trade in CITES-listed animals is only an approximation of the actual earnings at one stage in the market chain.
  • The calculations focus only on animals, as no comprehensive price data were available for plants. Furthermore, records were excluded if no price data were available or if no adequate proxy could be identified. Therefore, calculations are likely to be an underestimate of the total value of EU trade in CITES species.
  • Family-level price data and proxy data used for price calculations may not always reflect the true price of a species.
  • The price for any given species/commodity may vary according to size of animal, shipment size, variety (e.g. rare breeds) – such detail is not captured in the CITES trade data. To account for these differences, a median price was used. An initial analysis of the data used in this report indicated that median shipment sizes were comparable between the United States and EU datasets.
  • In future, it is intended to refine the methodology to further verify the assumptions used and to identify a suitable price dataset and methodology for plants.