On October 5th, the twelve countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) concluded their talks and announced that a historic agreement had been reached. Today, the final text of the agreement, accompanied by comprehensive summaries of each chapter, is being made available at go.who.gov/TPPText. The agreement delivers on President Obama’s promise to negotiate the most high-standard trade agreement in history—one that reflects America’s values and creates new rules for the global trading system.
By embedding conservation commitments in the core text of the agreement and making them subject to the TPP’s dispute resolution mechanisms, the TPP provides new leverage to advance vital environmental objectives.
Why is TPP a historic agreement for environmental protection?
As the largest regional trade agreement negotiated to date, encompassing the Asia-Pacific—one of the most ecologically and economically significant regions of the world—TPP will help shape an international response to the global environmental challenges we face on a bigger scale than ever before. TPP is packed with fully-enforceable, first-ever provisions that can affect real-world change and address environmental challenges and crises that threaten ecosystems, livelihoods, and economies alike.
As trade liberalizes, we have to take measures that protect wildlife from the potential increases in illegal trade that can result. The Obama Administration has led the fight for strong protections for wildlife in the TPP agreement. IFAW is pleased with the new wildlife trade protections in the TPP and with the strong commitment to capacity building from the U.S. for those countries that need support in meeting the binding requirements to implement these tough, new wildlife trade provisions.
For example, TPP is the first trade agreement to prohibit some of the most harmful fisheries subsidies, including those that contribute to overfishing. And it also contains pioneering commitments to combat illegal fishing, promote sustainable fisheries management, and the long term conservation of iconic marine resources, including sharks, whales, and sea turtles.
As Co-Chairs of The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, we applaud the Obama Administration’s efforts to include commitments to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing that would require states to implement port state measures. These provisions directly address one of the most significant global threats to sustainable management and stewardship of global fishery resources and make important progress in implementing the recent Presidential Task Force recommendations.William Ruckelshaus and Norman Mineta, Co-chairs, Joint Ocean Commission Initiative
TPP also contains measures to combat wildlife trafficking and illegal logging, reinforcing international commitments to address these challenges, but also taking the additional step to require enhanced actions that can help stop criminal networks from profiting from this illicit trade in endangered and at-risk species, from elephants to pangolins. It will spur adoption and implementation of strong anti-corruption protections, which can help tackle bribery and corruption—the root of many illegal trafficking schemes.
No major trade agreement before this one has gone so far to address growing pressures on natural resources like overexploited fish, wildlife and forests.
And the agreement will enhance cooperation and information sharing with our trading partners, so that we can tackle these pressing environmental challenges together. Collectively, these tools provide our best hope yet to sever the connection between source countries—often in Africa—and destination countries in the Asia-Pacific, frustrating the efforts of traffickers and offering a helping hand to conservationists everywhere.
The United States pushed hard during negotiations for these ambitious, enforceable commitments. And some leading environmental and conservation advocates—many of whom have been engaged since the very start of the talks, asking us to negotiate the strongest environmental chapter ever—have weighed in about the importance of the environmental chapter’s commitments. So, the good news is, the final version of TPP delivered on the promise the President made throughout—that this would be the most ambitious, highest-standard trade agreement on the environment in history and that its provisions would be fully enforceable through trade sanctions.
We commend the Obama Administration’s efforts, including those of the U.S. Trade Representative, to use all the tools available to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and its commitment to solving this crisis as a top-level priority.
While TPP already has set a new benchmark, our work is far from finished. Releasing the text today is just one important step toward realizing these groundbreaking new protections. In the coming months, after consultation and careful review, Congress will have an opportunity to move forward with translating the words we’ve secured on paper into the critical action needed on the ground by passing TPP into law. Before the President signs the deal and before Congress then moves toward taking a vote, we’ll work hard to get the word out about what these provisions will mean and why it is so important that we ratify TPP to make them a reality.