WASHINGTON – Deputy United States Trade Representative Jayme White today delivered remarks at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Green Trade Innovation and Incentives Forum. In his remarks, Ambassador White highlighted how USTR is advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental agenda by leveraging new and existing tools in our bilateral and multilateral trade engagements around the world.
Ambassador White’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
I’d like to thank Customs and Border Protection for convening this event, and the Patent and Trademark Office for providing this venue.
As the Deputy United States Trade Representative responsible for Environment, it is my job to support and advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s trade and environment priorities.
In fact, I have spent the better part of my career in Washington DC focused on the intersection of trade, environment, climate, renewable energy and the jobs they support.
Over time, one trend I have witnessed is the growing role of environmental stewardship and durable supply chains in our trade policies and priorities.
I’ll note that Ambassador Tai’s very first speech as the U.S. Trade Representative outlined a vision for leveraging trade policy to protect the environment and tackle the climate crisis. That is why I am so happy to be her Deputy and support this work.
The Biden-Harris Administration is taking a whole-of-government approach to environmental protection. That commitment is shown in USTR’s work to prioritize and advance trade policies that support our environment and climate change goals.
USTR maintains that leadership, seeking to ensure that our international trade and environmental policies are mutually supportive.
Trade done right has the potential to improve social, economic, and sustainability outcomes.
Trade is an environment issue, and environment is a trade issue. We cannot have a healthy and robust economy, without a heathy environment in which workers live.
This Administration’s commitment to addressing environment and climate challenges through trade tools is supported by a number of outcomes with trading partners around the world.
Last year, we demonstrated U.S. leadership by working together with other World Trade Organization Members to achieve a groundbreaking agreement in the decades-long WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations. This included years of work with Congress and our stakeholders and that partnership will endure as we implement this agreement.
We are proud to be among the first WTO members to accept the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which is the first ever multilateral trade agreement with environmental sustainability at its core.
This agreement will help support the livelihood of fishers and workers in the United States and globally, and contribute to the sustainability of fish stocks worldwide by prohibiting subsidies to those engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; subsidies for fishing overfished stocks; and subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.
This agreement was a breakthrough after more than two decades of negotiations, but it is not the last step. We will continue to work with our international partners at the WTO to seek additional, ambitious disciplines on harmful fisheries subsidies to protect our oceans and fisheries resources.
More broadly at the WTO and in other fora such as APEC, the OECD, and in our bilateral and regional engagements, the United States is providing leadership in areas such as the circular economy.
We are championing ways to extend the life of goods and materials through reuse, repair, remanufacturing, and recycling throughout our economy.
This keeps products in use longer, decreases demand for virgin resources, and lowers the overall environmental impact and carbon footprints of products.
USTR is focused on the role that trade and trade facilitation plays in enabling remanufacturing activities as a key element of a more circular economy, which is likely top of mind for many of you here.
For example, we recently hosted a remanufacturing-focused event as part of the WTO’s Trade and Environment Week, showcasing the role that trade can play to enable remanufacturing. We know there is more to do and will continue to work with our trading partners, and our federal government partners and stakeholders on this important topic.
Addressing the climate crisis and advancing sustainable trade policies requires a multifaceted approach with our trading partners to tackle these challenges.
We work together with trading partners to capitalize on opportunities to decarbonize our global economy, including through bilateral negotiations.
For example, through the negotiations for a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum, the United States and the European Union are aiming to reach an agreement to address both carbon intensity as well as global steel and aluminum excess capacity, in these two energy-intensive sectors.
In fact, these two concepts are closely linked. Excess capacity, by its very nature, leads to excess emissions because it enables excess production of steel and aluminum, which in turn takes more energy and more emissions to produce.
From the beginning, we’ve been clear that we see the potential for a new trade paradigm, to address two fundamental issues – carbon intensity and non-market excess capacity– to address the serious threat that market distortions pose to workers, producers, and our climate.
USTR is working with government counterparts, industry, and stakeholders to develop an innovative approach to trade in these sectors, and will incentivize industrial decarbonization through a market-based approach.
We are also advancing a green trade agenda in the Indo Pacific region.
President Biden launched the Indo Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, in May 2022.
IPEF is a trade arrangement with more than a dozen partner countries in the region, that will advance commitments for environmental protection and sustainability.
In the IPEF Trade Pillar negotiations we are pursuing an ambitious set of environment provisions, containing commitments and initiatives that will respond to our common sustainability challenges, including climate change.
We are building on previous trade agreements and seeking to break new ground, such as on issues like climate and trade, resource efficient and circular economies, renewable energy and clean energy technologies, and sustainable finance.
We are working to create enabling environments in our trading partners’ economies to tackle these issues head-on.
We expect that commitments in these areas will have both direct and indirect impacts on climate change and environmental protection.
But we are not focused only on new trade arrangements and outcomes.
As my colleagues at CBP know well, enforcing the commitments of our existing trade agreements is essential to ensure our environment is protected and our supply chains are resilient and sustainable.
The recently renegotiated United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, which was negotiated and passed on a bipartisan, bicameral basis, included groundbreaking environmental protections.
The Environment Chapter brought environment provisions into the core of the trade agreement and made them enforceable. USTR is actively monitoring Canada and Mexico’s implementation of the Environment Chapter.
In 2022, we requested the first ever environment consultations under the Environment chapter, with the Government of Mexico, relating to the protection of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, the prevention of illegal fishing, and trafficking of totoaba fish.
Since the initiation of these consultations, we have been working with Mexico to develop a plan of action to enhance Mexico’s enforcement of its fisheries-related environmental laws and implementation of its USMCA environment commitments. We are hopeful that Mexico will soon agree to a plan given the urgent nature of the issues at stake.
Additionally, our ongoing work with Vietnam, including through implementation of the innovative bilateral United States – Vietnam Timber Agreement, is another example of a way in which we have sought to use available trade tools and to cooperate with trading partners to address environmental concerns, including combatting illegal deforestation.
Illegally-harvested timber not only harms the environment and depletes natural resources, but also disadvantages workers and businesses who use lawful and sustainable means to make their goods.
USTR worked with Vietnam to secure an agreement that addresses U.S. concerns in the Vietnam Timber Section 301 investigation.
This was the first Section 301 investigation to address environmental concerns, and the Timber Agreement will help keep illegally harvested or traded timber out of the supply chain and protect the environment and natural resources.
We achieved a number of important commitments, including customs inspections and clearance, verification and enforcement measures, and cooperation between the United States and Vietnam to combat the harvest and trade of illegal timber. This is another example of the Administration’s commitment to taking action to address serious environmental concerns through trade.
These actions represent just some of the work we are doing at USTR to support a green economy and advance environmental protections.
We could not do this work without our interagency partners, including CBP, and the stakeholders and industry partners who are also working to combat the climate crisis, protect the environment, and create secure, resilient, and green supply chains.
As Ambassador Tai says, our collective climate and environmental challenges require a collective solution. I know everyone in this room is working to advance solutions to green our supply chains and protect our environment.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share USTR’s ongoing efforts in this area, and I look forward to our continued partnership.