USTR Requests First Consultations Under Peru FTA
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced recently that it has filed its first request for consultations under the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Through these consultations the U.S. will attempt to resolve concerns regarding a recent action to move Peru’s Agency for the Supervision of Forest Resources and Wildlife (OSINFOR) from its position as a separate and independent agency to a subordinate position within the Ministry of Environment.
According to USTR, OSINFOR was established in 2008 as an independent forest oversight body responsible at the national level for monitoring and enforcing the sustainable use and conservation of forest and wildlife resources in Peru, including by conducting post-harvest inspections of forestry titles and sanctioning those that harvest timber illegally. The PTPA includes an obligation for OSINFOR to be a separate and independent agency, and USTR states that the recent move appears to conflict with that obligation.
USTR Robert Lighthizer said OSINFOR “has played a critical role in Peru detecting and combatting illegal logging” and that the U.S. is “gravely concerned that its independence is threatened” by its move to the environment ministry. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asserted that this change “will result in entrenched political and economic interests prevailing over responsible environmental protections and the rule of law and cost American jobs by creating unfair competition for legal U.S. timber.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., praised USTR for “respond[ing] swiftly to concerns raised by Ways and Means Democrats,” adding that “it is critical that we continue to demonstrate to our trading partners that trade enforcement is a priority for the United States.”