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By Jennifer Prescott, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources
Under the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), the United States has been working with Peru to strengthen environmental protections and to enhance our cooperation in doing so. Earlier this month, I co-chaired a meeting of the Environmental Affairs Council, established under the PTPA, in Lima with my interagency colleagues and our Peruvian counterparts. While in Peru, we took another important step in implementing the PTPA. We signed the final documents to establish an independent body to receive public submissions concerning environmental enforcement, providing an outlet for the public to voice views and concerns relating to the environment. This represents an important step forward for enhanced public engagement and increased transparency.
To further support public participation, our delegations held a public session for businesses, NGOs and other members of the public to exchange their thoughts with government officials on environmental issues related to the trade agreement.
During our meetings, Peru shared with us its progress in implementing its environmental commitments, including the launch of a new Peruvian National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR) in August, 2014 and we discussed progress on the U.S. side in advancing our Presidential initiatives to combat wildlife trafficking and illegal and unregulated fishing. We also discussed Peru’s recent economic reforms and stressed the link between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. I also saw first-hand the progress Peru has made in combatting illegal logging during a site visit to the Amazon city of Pulcallpa where I viewed a state of art electronic timber tracking system which, once finalized through support from USAID, will track timber from stump to port, improving Peru’s ability to ensure legality throughout the timber supply chain.
Through the Amazon visit and our exchanges with Peruvian officials, I witnessed the progress that Peru has already made, as well as the remaining environmental challenges that Peru continues to face. We are committed to continuing to work with Peru to address these remaining challenges. Thus far, the United States Government has contributed over $73 million in capacity building funds to ensure that Peru meets its environmental obligations. Moving forward, the United States approved an Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA) Work Program (2015-2018), which lays out a plan for continued support and technical assistance for Peru, including continued support for implementation of the ground-breaking Annex on Forest Sector Governance and related 2013 bilateral action plan.
In addition, Peru and the United States are working to complete negotiation, with 10 other Asia Pacific countries, of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). That agreement will provide an even bigger platform for our environmental protection and cooperation efforts. The Obama Administration will continue to work with Peru and our other TPP partners to include pioneering, enforceable environmental commitments in the TPP environment chapter. We also remain committed to advance forestry reforms and combat illegal logging under our bilateral agreement with Peru, and to demonstrating that environmental protection and economic growth can be mutually supportive.