The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today gave the Clinton-Gore Administration’s new efforts on trade and environment a “B” grade for effort. EDF welcomed President Clinton’s Executive Order directing the United States Trade Representative to undertake environmental assessments of major trade negotiations before launching such negotiations. EDF also welcomed Vice President Gore’s announcement that at the upcoming Seattle trade talks, the US would seek removal of environmentally damaging fisheries subsidies, elimination of barriers to trade in environmental technologies, and greater transparency to give the public a stronger voice in trade matters.
“We’re pleased to see that after seven years of discussing it, the Clinton-Gore Administration has finally taken steps to codify, by executive order, the practice begun during the Bush Administration of assessing the environmental consequences of major trade negotiations,” said Annie Petsonk, EDF international counsel. “We intend to hold the administration to that commitment and will look for the publication, before the Seattle talks begin, of its preliminary analysis of the environmental impacts of the trade agreements that the administration is seeking to launch at Seattle.”
“We support the administration’s commitment to ending environmentally damaging fisheries subsidies,” said Doug Hopkins, EDF Oceans Program manager. “The measure of performance will be in the new agreements that the United States reaches with other fishing nations,” Hopkins said.
“In the trade and environment debate, trade specialists have consistently treated the environment as separate and unequal,” said Petsonk. “The potential environmental damage that globalization can wreak demands a different treatment. While the steps the administration has announced today, including greater transparency in the trade arena, are very important to the environmental community, it will take significantly greater action at Seattle to give the environment a level playing field with trade.”