China and Laos step up cooperation in CITES Law Enforcement

CITES Management Authorities, enforcement agencies from national and provincial levels in China and Laos participated in China-Laos CITES Law Enforcement Exchange Seminar organized by CITES Management Auhtorities of China in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan from 11 to 15 July 2016 for a bilateral dialogue on the law enforcement cooperation for implementing CITES between China and Laos.

50 participants of both countries from CITES management authorities, forestry police, customs, border inspection and forestry department attended this event. Situation of CITES law enforcement and forestry resources management in China and Laos was presented by the related agencies by both sides on the first day. The following field visit to the Menghai border and Mangao nature reserve of Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve and Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center provided a comprehensive on the ground understanding. In order to exchange information, a roundtable discussion was held on 14th July. Sino-Lao CITES management authorities, National level law enforcement officers; Officers from China’s Yunnan province, officers from five provinces from northern Laos (namely Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Phongsaly, Xayabuly, and Oudomxay) and wildlife conservation NGOs attended the meeting. Effective outcomes have been achieved including the strong willing of cooperation from both China and Lao side, a better understanding of law enforcement agency counterparts to ensure the efficiency of cooperation and to include wildlife topic into the existing cooperation mechanisms.

Last September, CITES MA of China visited Laos for enhancing bilateral cooperation on CITES law enforcement between the two countries. Agreement on improving CITES law enforcement, information exchange, capacity building and legal trade was reached by signing a formal MoU. In order to further implement the MoU, especially strengthening bilateral border provincial level’s enforcement cooperation. Three major conclusions were made in the workshop: i) to fulfill Sino-Lao CITES Implementation Cooperation MoU, joint trainings and other listed activities will be planned in the coming year; ii) adapt existing bilateral communication mechanisms in provincial level enforcement agencies (e.g. Yunnan Customs and Customs of neighbored Lao provinces) with CITES enforcement; iii) Push the Yunnan Forestry Police with Divisions of Department of Forestry Inspection of northern Lao provinces to establish Close cooperation relationship.

Dr. Meng Xianlin - Executive Director General of CITES MA China, praised this event: “This is a new milestone in the Sino-Lao law enforcement communication, which is an important foundation for future cooperation.”

Mr. Sangvane Bouavong - Director of Forest Resource Management of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Lao P.D.R, was pleased with outcomes of this meeting. “This is an important meeting to step on existing MoU between CITES MA China and CITES MA Laos. It is also a good opportunity for each northern provinces of Laos that bordering with China to make closer cooperation and coordination with each other”.

This workshop was organized and hosted by CITES MA China and supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)and TRAFFIC.