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Environmental Protection and Trade

The United States uses trade agreements to grow our economy, level the playing field for American workers and business, and advance environmental protection. Thirteen of our fourteen trade agreements  include a legally binding, enforceable environment chapter and/or a separate environmental cooperation agreement or similar mechanism. These environment chapters require our trading partners to, among other things, maintain high levels of environmental protection, effectively enforce their environmental laws, and not waive or derogate from these laws to encourage trade or investment. Violations of these requirements could result in monetary or trade sanctions. Through environmental cooperation, we work together with our trade agreement partners to strengthen their laws and improve enforcement, helping ensure that businesses in these countries are playing by similar environmental rules as U.S. businesses—leveling the playing field.

Some key successes include:

  • working with our trade-agreement partners to develop legal frameworks that promote environmental protection, sustainable natural resource management, and conservation;
  • bringing over 30 million hectares of land under improved natural resource management;
  • training over 37,000 farmers in best agricultural practices;
  • training over 82,000 people in natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.

Opportunity for Public Input and Participation

Each of our trade agreements provide that members of the public may submit comments on matters related to the environment chapter of the agreement. Interested persons wishing to submit comments should click on the link to the relevant trade agreement and follow the instructions therein. The relevant U.S. Government officials will consider the submissions and provide responses within a reasonable time frame. Submissions and responses will be posted on the web page for the relevant trade agreement.

The State Department also welcomes public input and participation in the development and implementation of our environmental cooperation mechanisms. Interested individuals and private sector organizations, including businesses and not-for-profit organizations, are encouraged to contact the Department of State’s Office of Environmental Quality with comments and suggestions.

Current Trade Agreements with Environmental Chapters

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International Chemicals, Waste, and Air Pollution Issues

The use and release of certain chemicals can have significant impacts on human health and the environment.  Some chemicals and pollutants can cross national boundaries and move long distances through air and water.  Because of this, international cooperation and collaboration—including negotiation and implementation of international agreements—is essential to ensuring environmental protection in the United States.

The United States participates in a number of agreements and activities to protect human health and the environment, including:

We are also working actively through partnerships to improve air quality management around the world, reduce the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, and work toward a global phase out of lead in paint.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future