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Hong Kong will push for a ban on the import and export of ivory, including legal pre-ban stock. But phasing out the local trade will require a “longer lead time,” the

government has said.

Following Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s announcement that he aimed to tackle Hong Kong’s role in the global ivory trade, conservationists have voiced concerns the government’s commitment to banning the local ivory industry outright was waning.

Officials will set out a detailed plan to the Legislative Council’s environmental panel on Monday afternoon.

As part of a multipronged approach, Hong Kong will seek to ban elephant hunting trophies passing through the SAR and will review maximum penalties on illegal trading in endangered species to “reflect the seriousness” of offences and provide a deterrent.

READ MORE: Hong Kong moves centre stage in seeking to beat the illegal ivory trade

A global ban on the international ivory trade came into force in 1989. It is still legal to trade in ivory which was on the market before then.

Ahead of the meeting, a Legco panel paper stated: “We are developing legislative amendment proposals with a view to banning the import and export of pre-Convention ivory to help further prevent possible laundering of illegal ivory.”

The initiatives will be placed ahead of a wider ban on the local ivory industry.

“At the next stage, we will actively explore phasing out the local ivory trade in the longer run,” the paper said.

“Longer lead time is required as the formulation of an implementation plan would require detailed assessment of the legal issues and other relevant considerations involved and extensive consultation with stakeholders, and the likely implementation timetable would also depend on the time required for drafting and enactment of the relevant legislative amendments and the duration of the phasing out arrangement.”

READ MORE: Lawmakers back motion calling for crackdown on city’s ivory trade

But WildAid Hong Kong campaigner Alex Hofford said the industry ban was the “one to watch for backsliding on policy address commitment,” and that ivory could fall off the agenda during Legco elections later this year and the chief executive election in 2017.

He said: “Whilst the Hong Kong government appear serious in their plans to phase out the local ivory trade, we would like to see them set a concrete timeline with actual dates.

“Elephants are still being slaughtered in their tens of thousands each year. The situation has never been more urgent.”

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