International Cooperation

U.S. Trade and Investment Policy Making Process

U.S. trade policy development is a cooperative undertaking, involving numerous federal agencies.

EPA's Role in Trade Policy Development

In general, the Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) serves as the EPA coordinator, and as a liaison to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the other agencies engaged in trade and investment policy formulation.  Other EPA offices also take lead roles in coordinating international trade and investment policy development in specific areas. For example:

Overall, EPA’s trade and environment policy organization is designed to create a flexible and collaborative mechanism so that EPA can participate fully and effectively in the development and implementation of U.S. trade and environment policy. 

Other Federal Roles in Trade Policy Development

USTR plays a lead federal role in the development of trade and investment policies.

Since these policies have direct implications for federal agencies and state and local government, USTR must take into account the interest of Congress, the public (individuals, groups, and businesses), federal agencies, and state governments to be successful. USTR utilizes numerous advisory committees to seek input.

EPA, along with USTR, jointly administers the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC), which is required by its charter to be “broadly representative of key sectors and groups of the economy, with an interest in trade and environment policy issues.” The committee includes representatives from environmental and consumer interest groups, agriculture, services, and non-federal governments. TEPAC meetings are announced through Federal Register notices and are published on the USTR website.

The principal mechanism for developing and coordinating U.S. government positions on international trade and investment is a committee structure called the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), established through the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.  The TPSC is responsible for developing interagency consensus on trade policy matters and relies on nearly 60 subcommittees responsible for work in specialized areas.

EPA is a very active member of the TPSC. OITA works with other EPA offices to secure proper policy and technical input and participation in TPSC subcommittee meetings.

The following two flow charts provide information on the trade agreement policy process.  Download these files here.

  • How the United States develops draft text for trade agreement negotiations (PDF)
  • How an operational trade agreement is developed (PDF)


For additional information on EPA's International Trade efforts, contact:
Joe Ferrante
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460