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International Cooperation

U.S. Trade and Investment Agreements

In the past decade the United States has entered into several trade agreements that liberalize the trade of goods and services between the participating countries.  All bilateral and multilateral U.S. FTAs include environmental provisions, which EPA helps to shape and implement. Attention to environmental issues in trade, including commitment to effective enforcement, helps level the playing field for U.S. producers in domestic and overseas markets. 

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United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

The United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement includes environmental commitments on protecting the ozone layer, protecting the marine environment from ship pollution, reducing marine litter, and encouraging conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and is accompanied by a complementary  Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA).  The USMCA and ECA entered into force on July 1, 2020, updating and replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), in force since 1994. USMCA includes a dispute settlement process that can be initiated if a Party is suspected of a persistent pattern of failure to enforce its environmental laws. Additionally, the agreement provides a mechanism whereby any non-governmental organization or person of one of the three countries can assert that a Party is failing to enforce its environmental laws.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Exit is an international organization established by the United States, Canada and Mexico under the NAAEC. Complementing our work under under the USMCA and ECA, EPA will continue to work through the CEC to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, promote the effective enforcement of environmental law, and to monitor the environmental effects of trade agreements in North America.

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Bilateral Trade Agreements

Under the Trade Act of 2002, the U.S. negotiated bilateral trade agreements with the following countries:

The U.S. Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 requires that all bilateral and regional FTAs include environmental provisions within the agreement and states that the parties shall strive to ensure that they do not relax domestic environmental laws to encourage trade, and that the parties shall not fail to effectively enforce their environmental laws. These key provisions help protect and level the playing field for U.S. producers.

The United States also negotiates cooperative activities in parallel with FTA negotiations to provide leadership in trade-related environmental capacity building.

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Environmental Reviews

The United States is required by Executive Order 13141 (2 pp, 154 K, About PDF)to perform environmental reviews of certain trade agreements to assess potential environmental impacts in the U.S., and in some cases, global and transboundary impacts.  EPA and other agencies play a significant role in this review process, which is coordinated by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).