Recommendation 4: International – Free trade agreements

Direct the U.S. Trade Representative to use existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and future FTAs to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, including through enhanced cooperation with our trading partners and commitments to enforce environmental and labor laws.

Rationale

U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and environmental cooperation programs can help to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud and support sustainable fisheries management by helping to develop management practices and tools in FTA partner countries. For example, FTAs with Korea, Panama, Colombia, and Peru require these trading partners to “adopt, maintain and implement” laws, regulations, and any other measures to fulfill obligations under a number of relevant multilateral environmental agreements—including those establishing the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)—as well as to “adopt and maintain” in its statutes, regulations, and practices fundamental internationally recognized labor rights. U.S. FTAs also contain obligations that require U.S trading partners to “effectively enforce” their environmental and labor laws, including laws that protect and conserve natural resources, such as marine fisheries. These obligations are subject to dispute settlement under the trade agreement, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has authority to monitor and review implementation of these and other FTA commitments. Other U.S. agencies provide support for implementation of FTA commitments through technical assistance and labor and environmental cooperation programs. U.S. FTAs also support cooperation to enforce consumer protection laws, achieve compliance with respective laws and regulations on customs matters, and encourage the use of voluntary market mechanisms to protect the environment and natural resources.

The United States, with USTR as the lead agency, is also in the process of negotiating trade agreements with 11 other countries for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and with the European Union for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement, together representing more than 70 percent of the value of all global seafood imports. In these negotiations, the United States is pursuing commitments to ensure effective enforcement of labor and environmental laws, as well as to address specifically IUU fishing activities, including the implementation of port State measures. The United States will seek similar commitments in future FTAs as well.

Implementation Steps

  • In 2015, conclude TPP negotiations, including provisions to effectively enforce labor and environmental laws and to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, where appropriate. Prepare the agreement for Congressional consideration, seek to put the agreement into force as quickly as possible, and monitor implementation of the agreement.
    Lead Agency: USTR
    Other Agencies Involved: Coordination with relevant agencies, as appropriate, including DHS, FDA, DOJ, and the Departments of State and Commerce.
  • In 2015, continue to develop proposals with the European Union to effectively enforce labor and environmental laws and to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, where appropriate. Seek to conclude T-TIP negotiations with a robust outcome as soon as possible, and thereafter prepare the agreement for Congressional consideration, seek to put the agreement into force, and monitor implementation of the agreement.
    Lead Agency: USTR
    Other Agencies Involved: Coordination with relevant agencies, as appropriate, including DOJ, DHS, and the Departments of State and Commerce.
  • Continue to prioritize implementation of FTA commitments to effectively enforce labor and environmental laws, including laws pertaining to the conservation and management of marine fisheries resources, through, inter alia, regular meetings of FTA labor and environment bodies.
    Lead Agencies: USTR, Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of State
    Other Agencies Involved: Coordination with relevant agencies, as appropriate, including DOJ, DHS, the Departments of State, Commerce, and the Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency, and USAID.
  • Develop and enhance labor and environmental cooperation programs, where appropriate, including to support existing and future FTA partner commitments to effectively enforce labor and environmental laws and to address IUU fishing. In coordination with DHS, use FTAs as a vehicle to enhance customs cooperation and information sharing on IUU fishing and the fraudulent importation of fish and seafood.
    Lead Agencies: DOL and Department of State
    Other Agencies Involved: Coordination with relevant agencies, as appropriate, including DOI, DOJ, the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, USAID, and USTR.

Noryangjin Fish Market located in Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South Korea. Photo Credit: Gaël Chardon (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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