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AUSTR Mark Linscott Co-Leads Fifth Meeting of the Environmental Affairs Council of CAFTA

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources Mark Linscott and Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones and co-led the fifth meeting of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) held in Washington, D.C. earlier today. Environment Ministers and Vice Ministers from the Central American parties and the Dominican Republic also participated in the one-day meeting.

During the meeting, the Dominican Republic, the Central American parties, and the United States reaffirmed their strong commitment to work together to preserve and protect the environment through implementation of the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter and the Environmental Cooperation Agreement. The success of this joint work is a tangible demonstration of good trade policy accelerating the success of environmental initiatives while mutually reinforcing the objectives of sustainable development and environmental conservation and protection.

The Environment Ministers and Vice-Ministers also met with representatives from civil society during a half-day Public Session to hear their concerns and interests. The Council shared progress on the implementation of obligations under the Environment Chapter and on important results achieved under the Environmental Cooperation Agreement. The CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters explained how to file submissions on enforcement matters under the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter. The Council meeting and public session also underscored that increased trade and stronger environmental protection are mutually supportive.

To date, the United States has dedicated more than $64 million to support environmental cooperation in the CAFTA-DR Region. The main areas of CAFTA-DR environmental cooperation are strengthening implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, protecting biodiversity, increasing market-based conservation, and improving private sector environmental performance. The CAFTA-DR Free Trade Commission will meet for the first time on February 23, 2011, in El Salvador, to discuss the agreement’s administration and implementation and expanding and broadening the benefits of trade under the agreement.

You can read the joint communique from today's meeting here.