The U.S. and Peru resolved concerns raised by the U.S. in the first-ever environment consultations under the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced Tuesday.
The U.S. requested consultations under Article 18.12.1 of the PTPA Environment Chapter on Jan. 4, after a December decision by the Peruvian government to move its Agency for the Supervision of Forest Resources and Wildlife (OSINFOR) to a subordinate position under Peru’s Ministry of Environment, which USTR claimed could have undermined OSINFOR’s independence and its ability to enforce forestry laws.
The U.S. and Peru held technical consultations on Jan. 30, then referred the matter to the higher-level PTPA Environmental Affairs Council, which met Feb. 21.
The PTPA instructs the U.S. and Peru each to designate a senior-level government official with environmental responsibilities to represent each government and to designate an office in its appropriate ministry or government entity to serve as its contact point for carrying out the work of the council.
On Tuesday, Peru’s Council of Ministers annulled Peru’s December decision to move OSINFOR, which returns OSINFOR to its previous position, directly reporting to Peru’s prime minister.
“We are pleased with Peru’s decision to retain OSINFOR as an independent and separate agency, as required by our bilateral agreement,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. “This shows that strong enforcement works. I am committed to using enforcement tools to ensure that our trade agreements protect the environment and advance the interests of U.S. workers and businesses.”
During trade agreement negotiations, the U.S. pushed for Peru to establish OSINFOR as a separate agency, to ensure a strong and independent body with adequate resources to safeguard Peru’s forest oversight from undue political influence, USTR noted.
USTR will continue to closely work with the Peruvian government, congressional lawmakers, interested agencies and stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of the PTPA Environment Chapter and Forest Annex, USTR said.