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Environmental Reviews of Trade and Investment Agreements

Environmental reviews are an important means of determining the potential effects of trade and investment agreements on the environment and on our system of regulations. Environmental reviews help the U.S. Government develop appropriate responses to those effects. The review process provides opportunities for public input and is meant to ensure that the public and the government benefit from an open and inclusive process of trade policy development.

The practice of performing environmental reviews of trade agreements began with the 1992 review of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Exit EPA disclaimer This practice was continued on an ad hoc basis until 1999. In response to growing public interest in formalizing the review process, as well as growing recognition of the value of conducting environmental reviews, Executive Order 13141 (Nov. 1999) Exit EPA disclaimer required environmental reviews of certain trade agreements, including comprehensive multilateral trade rounds, bilateral or plurilateral free trade agreements, and major new trade liberalization agreements in natural resource sectors. Implementation guidelines published in 2000 supplement this Executive Order.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Ministerial Declaration Exit EPA disclaimer of 2001, which encouraged that “expertise and experience be shared with members wishing to perform environmental reviews at the national level.” also illustrated the growing interest in environmental reviews.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) jointly oversee the implementation of environmental reviews. Given its expertise and mandate, EPA plays a crucial role, along with other agencies, in conducting the reviews.

The Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) is responsible for coordinating the EPA’s participation in the formation of environmental reviews, but many offices within the Agency contribute to the effort. The EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) helps with respect to trade and environment issues dealing with sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and biosafety. The Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and OPPTS both contribute by identifying potential technical barriers to trade/standards-related measures. The Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation (OPEI) helps specifically with regard to forestry and non-pesticidal agricultural issues, and performs quantatative analyses.

The links below give additional details about environmental reviews of trade agreements:


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