Valuation methodology overview

On the basis of the species coverage, level of detail, consistency of the dataset and probable comparability to EU prices, the “Declared U.S. Dollar Value” data from the United States CITES Annual Reports were used as the basis for calculations of the value of EU imports of CITES-listed species. The United States is a major importer and exporter of CITES-listed species and therefore Customs data included price data for a high number of CITES species in trade. Using EU importer-reported trade data derived from the CITES Trade Database, the United States price data were extrapolated to calculate the value of EU reported imports of CITES-listed animals.

United States price data used

The Declared U.S. Dollar Value is the amount in U.S. dollars declared by the trader at the point of export from or import to the United States. The Declared U.S. Dollar Value data for cleared items (Status = “CL”) provided in the United States CITES Annual Reports for the years 2007-2011 were used. Both import and export price data were included in the analysis.

On account of limited price data, the vast majority of plants were excluded from the analysis (with the exception of two families with robust enough price data); it is hoped that plant price datasets can be improved in the future to address this issue.

Data for animals were standardised to comply with CITES accepted codes (for further information on CITES codes for terms, sources and units, see Units and source codes were converted or grouped (in the cases of some sources) to allow for more meaningful analysis. All sources and purposes were included in the analysis.

Price per taxon per year (2007-2011) was corrected for inflation by using a conversion factor (see to express prices as estimates of U.S. dollars in 2011.

The median USD price for each family/unit/source/term combination was calculated. Family-level price data were used so that median prices would be based on a higher number of records, thus providing a more robust price estimate. Furthermore, calculations done at the family level provided value data for a higher proportion of trade records in EU importer data.

EU importer data

Trade data were extracted from the CITES Trade Database to determine trade volumes as reported by EU importers in 2011. All terms, sources and purposes were included.

Calculating value of EU imports

To estimate the monetary value of EU imports of CITES-listed animal species, the median price value for each family/unit/source/term combination was multiplied by the EU reported trade volume.

Where the family median was based on a small number of records within the United States price dataset (<5 records) or where price data were unavailable for a family/unit/source/term combination (e.g. because the United States had not traded in the taxon in question), proxy values were used. An example of typical proxy would be using the median price for the order/source/unit/term combination or the same family/unit/term combination but for trade in a similar but different source. For those commodities where a suitable proxy could not be found (e.g. there was no comparable proxy with enough price records to make it valid), trade was deleted.

The price dataset initially included 558 010 relevant price records for animal species. Median price values were subsequently calculated for 1 638 family/unit/source/term combinations. The final EU importer data used included 7 040 trade records, with less than 200 records with no price data available.


A number of assumptions were made in order to undertake the calculations for this report:

  • Only price data from United States “cleared” imports and exports were used, which were then extrapolated to estimate the value of EU imports. However, in reality there will be price differences between countries for the same species and there will be differences in the quality of products, leading to price differences However, it is important to note that the estimate of financial value of the trade in EU imports of CITES-listed animals is only an approximation of the actual earnings at one stage in the market chain.
  • The calculations focus only on animals, as no price data were available for plants, with the exception of two tree families. Furthermore, records were deleted if no price data were available or if no adequate proxy was identified. Therefore, calculations are likely to be an underestimate of total value of legal imports of CITES species to the EU.
  • Family-level price data and proxy data used for price calculations may not always reflect the true price of a species.
  • The price for any given species/commodity may vary according to size of animal, shipment size, variety (e.g. rare breeds) – such detail is not captured in the CITES trade data. To account for these differences, a median price was used. In addition, an initial analysis of the data used in this report indicated that median shipment sizes were comparable between the two datasets.
  • In future, it is intended to refine the methodology to further verify assumptions and to identify a suitable price dataset and methodology for plants.