THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY President Lifts Trade Sanctions Against Taiwan; Welcomes Major Steps taken to Protect Endangered Species
President Clinton has determined that Taiwan has taken substantial steps to halt commercial trade in rhinoceros and tiger parts and products. As a result, the President has directed that trade sanctions imposed on Taiwan by the United States last year be lifted and that the Secretary of the Interior continue to monitor enforcement by Taiwan of its recently-amended Wildlife Conservation Law to ensure continued progress on this critical issue.
"Taiwan has taken to heart the world's concern about the fate of the wild tiger and rhinoceros and done the right thing in protecting these precious species. Our willingness to take strong action to back that concern was instrumental in bringing about this change," the President said.
"I remain committed to international efforts to protect rhinos and tigers. This administration will not stand by as the world risks losing forever these magnificent species," President Clinton said. "While this action represents an important step forward, rhinos and tigers remain in imminent danger of extinction by the turn of the century. The tragic loss of these majestic animals would diminish all our lives."
Last year, the President imposed a ban on the importation of certain fish and wildlife products from Taiwan in response to an international call for increased protection of tigers and rhinos under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). To help stave off the extinction of these species, the Administration invoked sanctions under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen's Protective Act of 1967. The Pelly Amendment gives the President the authority to prohibit imports when foreign actions are found to diminish the effectiveness of an international conservation program. It was the first time that sanctions had ever been imposed under the Pelly Amendment, and Taiwan's prompt response demonstrates the importance of taking strong action to protect the earth's natural heritage.
Prior to the imposition of sanctions, Taiwan had not made sufficient progress toward eliminating the illegal trade in rhino and tiger parts and products. Trade in these products, valued for use in traditional medicines, directly contributes to the rapid disappearance of these animals. Since April 1994, when the President decided that strong measures were warranted, Taiwan has made major strides in combating the devastating commerce in endangered species. Taiwan has enacted amendments to its Wildlife Conservation Law, strengthening enforcement activities and enabling law enforcement authorities to impose sufficiently high penalties to deter people from dealing in rhino and tiger parts. The recently-amended law also calls for the establishment of a new Nature Conservation Police expressly designed to crack down on wildlife crime.
At latest count, there were fewer than 10,000 rhinos and approximately 5,000 tigers left in the wild, ranking these species among the world's most critically endangered. Unless worldwide trade in their parts and products is virtually eliminated, wild rhinos and tigers could be extinct within 5 years.
In conjunction with the removal of trade sanctions, the President directed Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), to continue to work closely with Taiwan, to monitor ongoing progress and to report back to him within one year. Under the terms of a new cooperative agreement between the AIT and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service will assist Taiwan in enhancing conservation and law enforcement efforts through training and education programs, including the improvement of Taiwan's wildlife forensics capability.
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