Trade pacts like the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) not only can facilitate economic growth and opportunities, but can do so in a “race to the top” that advances environmental stewardship, encourages public-private partnerships, and promotes transparency and public participation, say members of the CAFTA-DR Environmental Affairs Council.
Gathering in New Orleans on April 2, council members reaffirmed their strong commitment to continued cooperation on pressing environmental issues ranging from building more capacity for environmental impact assessments to broadening the scope of outreach to public stakeholders, including those in remote communities.
Environmental cooperation programs have led to important achievements, including training for customs and border officials on wood identification to combat trade in illegally harvested timber; collaboration with hundreds of small and medium enterprises to help reduce their use of water, energy and raw materials; and support for the Central American Wildlife Enforcement Network to enhance regional enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said in an April 2 press release.
Assistant USTR for Environment and Natural Resources Jennifer Prescott co-chaired the meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Judith Garber. Council members from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, United States, Costa Rica and Guatemala (above) also hosted a half-day public session at the Port of New Orleans.