U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Robert Hormats announced recently that the United States and the Republic of Korea have signed the Environmental Cooperation Agreement.
“Our two governments have a deeply rooted partnership which has endured over decades,” Under Secretary Hormats said. “The Environmental Cooperation Agreement will further strengthen our partnership. Together, we can combat illegal logging and illegal trade in wildlife; reduce air and water pollution; increase the use of environmentally friendly materials and the recycling of waste; and implement measures to ensure that our transportation sectors — our cars, airplanes, and ships — meet high environmental standards.”
The United States and Korea negotiated the Environmental Cooperation Agreement along with the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was approved by the two countries in 2011. The Environmental Cooperation Agreement specifies areas where the United States and the Republic of Korea will cooperate on environmental protection; by including measures to improve environmental quality, it ensures that the Free Trade Agreement will not encourage practices that result in environmental degradation.
“[The Free Trade Agreement and the Environmental Cooperation Agreement] ... reference one another, which, combined, will orient the United States and Korea to lead the world as we transition to a green economy,” Under Secretary Hormats said. “This transition has the potential to grow our economies and create millions of jobs.”
The United States has established environmental cooperation mechanisms with seventeen of its free trade agreement partner countries. Under these mechanisms, which help to ensure a level playing field, the United States has worked with its partners to strengthen environmental laws and enforcement, promote green economies, facilitate cleaner production and increase public participation.
“I have high hopes because our nations have repeatedly exceeded expectations over the past fifty years,” Under Secretary Hormats concluded. “Together with the Environment Chapter of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Environmental Cooperation Agreement will strengthen the ties between the United States and the Republic of Korea by creating new opportunities for environmental cooperation.”