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If certification occurs, the US could pursue sanctions and prohibit wildlife imports from China.
Why This Matters: Pangolins are endangered and are increasingly victims of illegal wildlife crime—mainly in Asia and in growing amounts in Africa, according to WWF. But, as Rebecca Beitsch reported for The Hill, this petition comes at a time when the animal is being examined as a “possible intermediary host” of COVID-19. This petition could be used by Republican lawmakers as a means to mete out punishment to China for the current global pandemic. As Beitsch wrote, “imposing broad wildlife sanctions on China would be an unusual move for an administration that isn’t known for offering more protections for endangered species.”
Impact of Certification: What would happen if the Trump administration moves forward with certification? According to The Hill, President Trump “could decide to prohibit importation of all wildlife from China,” which would represent a “significant financial blow” to the country.
However, as of now it is unclear whether the Trump administration would move forward with this. As Bill Reinsch, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Hill, “Trump does not approve everything that comes to him, but it’s probably only a matter of time before they notice this one, and someone is going to say, ‘Hey here’s another way we can go after them.”
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