CITES is in effect the ‘industry regulator’ for the international trade in endangered flora and fauna, that has enabled businesses importing CITES listed endangered species to not engage – they are ‘free riding’ on the system – they get all the benefits (and profits) and cover none of the costs; and this has been allowed to go on for decades.
CITES is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the legal trade in endangered species and, as such, prevent the illegal trade. But in reality the illegal trade may be as large as 80% of the volume of legal trade, which means the illegal trade is out of control and regulation is not set up properly (In a well-regulated industry [such as aircraft components], the level of illegal parts is <10%). In addition, the current CITES system cannot provide trade analytics to prove that the sustainable use model is working.
Wildlife trafficking is not a priority for national governments or customs anywhere in the world, so resourcing even in wealthy countries is minimal. The GEF, US, EU, Germany and World Bank have provided funding to governments to address the illegal wildlife trade at about US$200 Million pa in recent years, but the illegal trade continues to grow faster than the world economy by factor of 2-3 (as reported by UNEP).
The disparity between funds available for regulation and monitoring compared to the scale of the trade can only be resolved by making industry pay the cost of regulation. In other industries regulated based on the Precautionary Principle, the industry mostly covers the cost of regulation and enforcement. By contrast for example, in the pharmaceuticals industry all costs of research, clinical trials and assessments demonstrating safety of products are borne by the industry.
In 2018, European Medicines Agency had an Annual budget of
€317 Million (US$350 Million), 90% from industry fees. The organisation
has 900 staff who in 2018 processed 60(!) applications (45 denied)