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White House Fact Sheet on Policy Declaration on Environment and Trade
(Nov 1999)

                            THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                  November 16, 1999

                               FACT SHEET

        White House Policy Declaration on Environment and Trade

                           November 16, 1999

   We must do more to ensure that spirited economic competition among
   nations never becomes a race to the bottom.  We should be leveling
environmental protections up, not down.  International trade rules have
 increasingly important implications for the environment.  They must be
    supportive of national policies that provide for high levels of
          environmental protection and effective enforcement.

                                             --William Jefferson Clinton
                                                          March 15, 1999
General Points

Economic growth must be pursued in the broader context of sustainable
development, which integrates economic, social, and environmental
policies.  Thus, trade policies must be complemented by policies that
provide for high levels of environmental protection and effective
enforcement of environmental laws at the national level. The term
environment is used in this statement broadly to also include health,
safety, and the conservation of natural resources.

The long-term maintenance of a prosperous economy requires a healthy
environment, and vice versa.  Trade liberalization and environmental
protection are therefore both vitally important objectives.  We are
committed to pursuing both objectives and ensuring that they are
mutually supportive.  We will do this through a variety of different
means, including but not limited to the upcoming WTO round.

Our broader efforts on the environmental front are reflected in our
robust domestic regulatory framework, our support for strengthening
international environmental institutions, our commitment to effective
multilateral environment agreements, and our unwavering advocacy of
transparent and accountable decision making by both national governments
and international institutions.

For example, at the international level we are seeking to:

- strengthen UNEP's ability to help developing countries improve their
  capacity to protect their environment;
- preserve fragile ocean habitats through the International Coral Reef
- protect the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol;
- conserve the world?s threatened biological diversity through the
  Global Environment Facility and our own bilateral assistance programs;
- strengthen the protection of threatened and endangered species through
  the implementation of the Convention for International Trade in
  Endangered Species (CITES);
- reduce or eliminate the dangers posed by hazardous chemicals in the
  U.N. initiatives on Prior Informed Consent and Persistent Organic
- increase conservation and sustainable management of shared fisheries;
- promote higher environmental standards for the activities supported by
  international financial institutions and common environmental
  guidelines for national export credit agencies of all OECD countries;
  and, address the challenge of climate change and pursue clean energy
  development strategies.

Moreover, we are assisting other countries in developing national laws,
enforcement mechanisms, and compliance monitoring systems, as well as
providing scientific and technical assistance, to address environmental
challenges, and will continue to do so.  We are also supporting similar
efforts led by international environmental organizations.

In the context of preparations for the Seattle Ministerial Conference,
our proposals for the elimination or reduction of
environmentally-harmful subsidies, tariffs and other barriers to trade
are examples of our efforts to advance sustainable development through
trade liberalization.  By reducing trade barriers such as these, trade
liberalization can promote competition and more efficient resource use,
as well as contribute to higher standards of living and a cleaner

Proceeding from our belief that trade liberalization must contribute to
sustainable development, we will pursue trade liberalization in the new
round of trade negotiations in a manner that is supportive of our
commitment to high levels of protection for the environment.  In
particular, we will do so by:

Taking fully into account environmental implications throughout the
course of the negotiations, including by performing a written
environmental review.

Promoting institutional reforms to ensure that the WTO and its
processes, notably dispute settlement, are transparent and that the
public may contribute to its work.

Strengthening cooperation between the WTO and international
organizations with respect to environmental matters.

Identifying and pursuing "win-win" opportunities where opening markets
and reducing or eliminating subsidies hold promise for yielding direct
environmental benefits.

Complementing our trade policies with policies that provide for high
levels of environmental protection and effective enforcement of our

Ensuring that trade rules are supportive of and do not undermine our
ability to maintain and enforce fully our environmental laws.

Ensuring the appropriate inclusion on U.S. trade negotiation teams of
environmental, health and safety officials, and encouraging our trading
partners to do likewise.

Taking Environment Into Account in Trade Negotiations

In order to ensure that the new round contributes to sustainable
development, we are committed to identifying and taking into account
environmental implications of the negotiations throughout the course of
the negotiations.  This will be done through a variety of means.

Environmental reviews are an important tool for identifying a
negotiation?s potential environmental effects, both positive and
negative, and facilitating consideration of appropriate responses to
those effects either in the negotiations, through other means, or both.

For the new round, we will perform a written environmental review of its
likely environmental consequences, with public input and sufficiently
early in the process to be taken into account in formulating our
positions in the negotiations.  We have encouraged all WTO members to
perform such reviews and are pleased that several have indicated their
intentions to do so.

We have also proposed that the WTO?s Committee on Trade and Environment
be given the role of helping throughout the round to identify, discuss,
and inform national deliberations and the negotiating groups on the
environmental implications of the negotiations.  At the same time, each
negotiating group must address the environmental issues relevant to its

It is also essential that environmental agencies continue to participate
actively with other agencies in the trade policy-making process.

Transparency and Openness

Transparency and openness are vital to ensuring public understanding of
and support for the WTO and all international institutions.  The United
States has been a staunch advocate for WTO reforms, including greater
interaction and exchange of information with the public though the
creation of consultative mechanisms; provision of timely access to a
wider range of documents such as submissions to dispute settlement
panels, the findings and conclusions of dispute settlement panels, and
WTO meeting minutes; provision of avenues for the filing of amicus
briefs; opening dispute settlement meetings in WTO disputes; and
improvement of compliance with established notification requirements
that provide access to information on national laws and practices.  The
United States will continue to pursue a strengthening of the WTO?s
consultative mechanisms with stakeholders, particularly during the
course of the new round.

While these reforms are critical to ensure the public a role in the
multilateral trading system, transparency and openness are no less
important at home. To this end, it is essential to keep the public
informed about the negotiations and engage in regular dialogue between
governments and stakeholders.  We are committed to maintaining such
informed dialogue as an important part of the policy-making process, in
particular for the new round of trade negotiations, and we encourage
other countries to do so as well.

Relations with International Environment Organizations

We support strong and effective cooperation between the WTO and
international environmental organizations, including UNEP and the FAO,
to contribute to coherence between trade and environment policies.  We
welcome the experience and expertise that such organizations have
contributed to trade and environment discussions in the WTO and believe
that such collaboration should be deepened.

This cooperation will be particularly valuable in the new round, and we
will continue to look for and build on opportunities to capitalize on
the expertise within the individual organizations and to ensure an
integrated policy approach.  In this connection, we welcome UNEP's
proposal for a cooperation agreement with the WTO and will work with
other WTO members to bring such an agreement to fruition.


The U.S. supports and will continue to promote capacity-building
initiatives with other countries to help achieve high levels of
environmental protection and effective enforcement.  It is important
that such continued work is undertaken to support the efforts of our
trading partners to pursue environmental protection in tandem with trade
liberalization.  Closer cooperation with existing international
organization, such as UNEP, should facilitate these efforts.

Win-Win Opportunities

We believe that WTO members must continue to work together to identify
and take advantage of opportunities where its work on trade
liberalization can also contribute to environmental protection through
the elimination of subsidies and market access barriers that have
harmful environmental effects.

We are actively pursuing such win-win opportunities in our call for:

- the elimination of tariffs on environmental goods and the
liberalization of trade in environmental services to expand and
accelerate diffusion of environmental technology, provide access to the
latest methods of pollution prevention, and lower the cost of achieving
environmental objectives;

- the elimination of harmful fishery subsidies that are contributing to
overcapacity which in turn has lead to unsustainable patterns of
fishing, as evidenced by serious depletion of global marine resources;

- the elimination of agricultural export subsidies and the continued
transition away from those domestic subsidy programs that encourage
degradation of natural resources and distort trade.  The extensive use
of these trade distorting subsidies and other practices have contributed
to the overuse of crop production inputs, soil degradation, overgrazing,
and other unsustainable practices.

We will continue to work with other countries and stakeholders to
identify other possible areas where trade liberalization, including the
elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies, can directly
contribute to both economic growth and environmental protection.

WTO Rules

This Administration's commitment to strong and effective protection of
the environment is fully consistent with the international trading
system, which permits Members to establish and pursue environmental
protection while ensuring against trade protectionist abuse.

The WTO rules affirm that countries have the right to establish the
levels of environmental protection that they deem appropriate.  We will
ensure that trade rules continue to be supportive of and do not
undermine the ability of governments, including at the state and local
levels, to establish and achieve their chosen levels of environmental
protection -- even when such levels of protection are higher than those
provided by international standards -- in a manner consistent with our
commitment to science-based regulation.


Precaution is an essential element of the US regulatory system given
that regulators often have to act on the frontiers of knowledge and in
the absence of full scientific certainty.  We believe that this
precautionary element is fully consistent with WTO rules, which make
clear that a regulatory agency may take precautionary action where there
is a rational basis for concern based upon available pertinent
information.  We will insist that this ability to take precautionary
action be maintained in order to achieve our environmental objectives.

At the same time, precaution must be exercised as part of a
science-based approach to regulation, not a substitute for such an
approach.  In this connection, the term precaution must not be used as a
guise for trade protectionist measures as this would have the effect of
casting doubt upon, and even undermining, environmental as well as trade
policy objectives.


We believe that WTO rules recognize that there can be legitimate
differences of view on scientific and technical issues in the
development of health, safety, and environmental measures.  WTO dispute
settlement decisions in this area already reflect a considerable degree
of deference to domestic regulatory authorities on scientific and
technical matters.  For example, in determining whether a measure is
based on sufficient scientific evidence, as is required under the WTO
Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), dispute
settlement panels have found that there need only be a demonstration of
a rational or objective relationship between the measure and the
scientific evidence to satisfy the requirement.

The United States will use appropriate opportunities to work to ensure
that WTO jurisprudence continues to accord such deference.  In this
connection, we welcome the WTO Appellate Body's recognition that dispute
settlement panels cannot engage in de novo review of scientific and
technical judgments.

We are confident that WTO panels will show such deference to U.S.
regulators given the integrity, rigor,(strikethrough:   )and open and
participatory nature of the U.S. regulatory system.


The SPS Agreement's provisions on equivalence (i.e., a WTO member's
acceptance of another member's measure as equivalent to its own) reflect
that importing parties, based on scientific or other objective
information, may determine that an exporting party has not objectively
demonstrated that its measures are equivalent to those of the importing
party.  Under these provisions, the United States is not required to
accept an import that it believes, based on such information, does not
achieve the level of protection sought by U.S. regulations.


Measures based on processes and production methods (PPMs) have long been
used in domestic environmental policy as an important and effective tool
to protect the environment.

In the international context, however, the use of trade restrictions
based on the way products are produced has engendered controversy.  We
would note that the Appellate Body report in the Shrimp/Turtle dispute
concluded that such measures may be permissible when they are used to
pursue legitimate environmental objectives.  However, that report also
makes clear that such measures must meet the rules of the trading system
which guard against abuse.  For example, trade measures based on a PPM
must not be unjustifiably discriminatory or a disguised restriction on

We will enforce those measures that are in place or are adopted in the
future, and we will continue our existing policy to evaluate, on a
case-by-case basis, when trade measures, including those based on PPMs,
should be adopted to protect the environment.


Market-based approaches to environmental challenges, such as
environmental labeling programs (ecolabels), are important and effective
policy tools but should not be misused as hidden forms of trade

Consumers have a legitimate interest in the environmental impacts of the
products that they buy.  Providing accurate information to consumers is
an important market-based means of engaging consumers in and achieving
health and environmental objectives.  We will promote a domestic and
international environment that is supportive of such approaches.

We believe and will defend our position that WTO rules provide
sufficient flexibility to permit all forms of ecolabeling, including
those involving criteria based on processes and production methods and
those developed and maintained by private bodies, subject to the
relevant disciplines of the multilateral trading system, including
transparency and non-discrimination.


The international community has developed a wide range of treaties and
agreements to protect the environment.  Multilateral environmental
agreements are important for addressing environmental challenges of
concern to all humankind.  In this connection, trade measures can be a
critical means of achieving internationally-agreed environmental goals
and objectives when carefully tailored and appropriately applied, as
exemplified, inter alia, in the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species and the Montreal Protocol.  Trade measures in MEAs
are broadly accommodated by the WTO.

We also believe that it is important that environment and trade
officials work closely together and respect each others expertise in the
context of negotiating and implementing both MEAs and trade agreements.


The United States believes that, like trade and the environment,
investment and environment can also be mutually supportive and we are
committed to ensuring that they are.  We are actively engaged in
analytic work in the OECD to address concerns raised in that forum
regarding the relationship between international investment rules and
the environment.

With respect to the possibility of supporting the development of
investment rules in the WTO, the United States is opposed to any effort
to launch a comprehensive investment negotiation in the new round.
Nevertheless, we are reviewing the proposals which other countries have
tabled to determine whether there are any elements that would be of
interest to us in the WTO and that would be consistent with our
commitment to maintain and defend high levels of environmental

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