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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Environmental Initiatives

USTR is always searching for new opportunities to promote environmental objectives through international trade. In commemoration of Earth Day, this week’s trade spotlight will focus on a variety of environmental initiatives.

As the Obama Administration consults with Congress to advance three pending trade agreements –including Korea, Colombia and Panama – USTR is beginning to break new ground on environmental matters in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. USTR recognizes that illegal trafficking in wildlife and forest products can amount to billions of dollars in global trade each year. This type of trade negatively impacts the conservation and economic interests of all TPP countries. USTR has proposed that TPP countries commit to take measures to prohibit this trade. This includes increased law enforcement cooperation, to enhance existing international controls on wildlife and wild plant trade. This work in the TPP builds on efforts to protect the environment in other international markets.

In the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, USTR is pressing for strong disciplines on fisheries subsidies that have contributed to the continuing decline in global fish stocks. USTR is advocating in the WTO to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and catalytic converters. USTR is also working in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum this year to promote trade and investment in environmental goods, including addressing non-tariff barriers that hamper trade in these products. In addition, USTR seeks to establish an APEC mechanism to combat illegal logging and associated trade.

All of these initiatives reflect this Administration’s firm belief in the potential for international trade and environmental policies to be mutually supportive. USTR pledges to continue to work toward achieving this fundamental objective.