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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:
- EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) has a lead role in coordinating EPA activities with respect to trade and environment issues dealing with sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and biosafety.
- The Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and OCSPP also have lead roles in coordinating EPA activities with respect to technical barriers to trade/standards-related measures pertaining to their statutory responsibilities and authorities.
- The Office of General Counsel serves as EPA's lead for environmental related trade disputes.
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.
Learn more about the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC)
Learn more about the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC)
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)