U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Suspends Commercial Trade from Mexico in All CITES-Regulated Products

Kelley Drye Client Advisory

On March 27, 2023, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) suspended trade in all trans-border shipments from Mexico that contain specimens managed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  Specifically, the suspension applies to all commercial trade subject to a CITES import permit, export permit, or re-export certificate issued by Mexico.

USFWS’s sweeping decision comes in response to CITES Secretariat Ivonne Higuero’s recommendation on Tuesday that all Parties to CITES implement such trade suspensions.  The Secretariat’s recommendation is based on concerns over Mexico’s conservation plan for vaquita – a highly endangered porpoise species endemic to the Gulf of California.

In a swift response to the Secretariat’s recommendation, Mexico has sent a delegation to CITES headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland to challenge the suspension and address the Secretariat’s concerns.   However, until a resolution is reached, the domestic trade ban on all commercial shipments containing CITES products remains in effect.

A host of plant and animal species are listed under the CITES appendices that are commonly found in everyday products, including lumber, leather goods, and medicinal ingredients.  Businesses should assess their inventories and sourcing protocols to fully ascertain how this decision will impact their supply chain in both the short- and long-term.  With a strong practice in both CITES issues specifically and international trade generally, Kelley Drye is currently exploring options for alleviating these impacts to the business community.  For more information or additional guidance, please contact the authors of this advisory.