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Speaking during an annual policy address on January 14, the city's chief executive, CY Leung, said the government will "take steps to ban totally the sale of ivory in Hong Kong". This would bring the city in line with recent promises made by the Beijing government.

It awaits to be seen if there will be an exception for worked antiques.

Currently, 413 licensed sellers are permitted to trade in ivory in HK providing it was worked before 1989 when the CITES treaty came into effect.

In theory, the unauthorised import and export of ivory items is banned (purchases must remain inside HK) but it has long been alleged that the legal trade acts as a cover for the sale of illegal ghost ivory.

Much of the demand comes from mainland China where the material remains a badge of wealth and luxury.

Leung said Hong Kong will "actively explore appropriate measures" to phase out the local ivory trade. He did not provide a timeline or details for when or how these would be implemented, but said lawmakers "will start legislative procedures as soon as possible".