US Bending on Environment for Sake of Big Trade Deal

Countries' 'red lines' said to clash
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2014 10:35 AM CST
US Bending on Environment for Sake of Big Trade Deal
US Trade Representative Michael Froman delivers a speech in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.   (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

As a dozen Pacific Rim nations continue three years of talks on a major trade deal, the US seems to be bending on environmental regulations accompanying the deal. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, central to President Obama's goals in the region, features a contentious chapter on environmental rules; a Nov. 24 draft version revealed by WikiLeaks and talks with insiders indicate that the US is willing to compromise on the subject, the New York Times reports. The draft "rolls back" key language designed to make sure that increasing trade will not also increase pollution, logging, and other environmental woes, says a Sierra Club rep.

More specifically, the draft doesn't require countries (in addition to the US, they're Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Peru) to adhere to treaties on pollution control, instead allowing "domestic circumstances and capabilities" to determine individual countries' cases. Nor does the draft definitively ban shark finning. "While the chair sought to accommodate all the concerns and red lines that were identified by parties … many of the red lines for some parties were in direct opposition to the red lines expressed by other parties," says a report on the proceedings. (Read more Obama administration stories.)

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