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The government has had bigger distractions – a general election, for one – since the promise was made back in September 2016, but the delay was still frustrating.

Decision time

“Please, could they just come to a decision,” was the reaction of one LAPADA fair exhibitor when ATG suggested that new environment minister Michael Gove would take a hard line on antique ivory.

Yet despite one industry figure describing Gove’s statement last week as “aggressive” towards antique ivory, at least Defra is offering the trade the opportunity to have its voice heard.

What chance we will see the trade return to the determined mood of ATG’s CITES seminar back in January this year?

There, the prize for show-stopping talk of the event went to Hanover PR’s Gavin Megaw, a business reputation specialist who warned that time was running out to make the case to law makers and the public that antique ivory should be distinguished from its illicit and abhorrent modern counterpart.

Increased anti-ivory sentiment in mainstream media since has led to the trade keeping a low profile.

But the consultation is hardly a call for a sea of placards and slogans: the trade is being invited to give exactly the kind of input policy makers are supposed to take on board before making law.

Last chance saloon

There are 12 short weeks for readers to respond.

Meanwhile, the recurring metaphor of antique ivory as being in ‘the last chance saloon’ feels like an accurate one. The launch of the consultation suggests the minister’s saloon door is still ajar, albeit only just.

To participate in the consultation visit consult.defra.gov.uk

Email: noellemcelhatton@antiquestradegazette.com