BEIJING – China’s reduction of the tax on the import of donkey skins – a product whose demand has led to a fall in the population of the animal – came into force on Monday.
According to an announcement made last week by the State Council, the tax was to be cut from 5 percent to 2 percent.
China is a large market for donkeys, as their skins are used to create a gelatin known as “ejiao,” which is extracted by soaking the skins in water and boiling them.
According to Chinese traditional medicine, the gelatin can be used for a variety of purposes, including treating anemia and as an aphrodisiac.
Donkey meat is also in demand in many regions of the country.
As a result, the donkey population in the country has dropped, from 11 million in 1990 to 3 million in 2017, according to official Chinese statistics.
Due to local scarcity, traders have been increasingly looking for other suppliers, especially in Africa and Latin America.
In Africa, donkeys are often stolen by traders, and even if the animals are legally bought, they are skinned and the meat is left to rot, due to a lack of means to preserve it and transport it to China.
African countries like Niger and Burkina Faso banned the export of donkey skins to China in 2016, while other governments have applied or are considering applying restrictions of several types, given the importance of these animals in agriculture and transporting goods.
The undamaged whole skin of a donkey fetches some 3,000 yuan ($460) currently.