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Trade Ministers Call for Greater Cooperation on Making Trade and Environmental Protection Mutually Supportive

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk joined his NAFTA counterparts in writing to the environment ministers from the United States, Canada and Mexico to encourage greater cooperation between the NAFTA Free Trade Commission (FTC) and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) on working to ensure that the trade and environmental policies of each of the three countries are mutually supportive.  In commenting on the letters, Ambassador Kirk noted that "improving cooperation between the FTC and the CEC is the type of action that will help us to meet President Obama's priority of seeking to improve how NAFTA works for the environment." The letters note the important contributions that the CEC has made toward achieving the environmental goals of the NAFTA.  The CEC is led by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and her ministerial counterparts from Mexico and Canada.

The letters also note that there is more that can be done to achieve these goals.  Ambassador Kirk, Minister Stockwell Day of Canada, and Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Mateos of Mexico pledged to explore new opportunities to collaborate more closely with the CEC to promote mutually supportive policies on trade and environmental protection in North America.  In discussing the importance of achieving this goal, Ambassador Kirk noted that President Obama has called upon the NAFTA parties to work to ensure that the NAFTA is supportive of the environment.

BACKGROUND

The NAFTA FTC is comprised of the ministers responsible for trade from the United States, Canada and Mexico:  United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Canada's Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway Stockwell Day and Mexico's Secretary of the Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos.  The FTC is responsible for the implementation of the NAFTA.

When they entered into the NAFTA, the United States, Canada and Mexico also entered into the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), in part, to achieve the environmental goals of the NAFTA.  The NAAEC established the CEC, which is governed by a Council currently comprised of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Canada's Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice and Mexico's Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Juan Rafael Elvira.  The CEC implements a cooperative agenda set by the Council on various trilateral environmental issues, including work on trade and environment issues.  The Council held its annual meeting in Denver, Colorado this week.