Ways & Means Democrats Urge USTR Enforcement of Peru Trade Agreement Environmental and Labor Standards
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) and the Democrats of the Ways & Means Committee sent U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer a letter expressing serious concern about actions taken by the government of Peru last week, emphasizing the importance of enforcing the environmental and labor commitments of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (Peru Trade Agreement), and requesting USTR action.
On Friday, December 14, the government of Peru folded the nation’s independent forest auditor, the Organismo de Supervision de los Recursos Forestales (OSINFOR), into the Ministry of the Environment, despite the explicit requirement in the Peru Trade Agreement that the agency be established as “an independent and separate agency.”
“We consider this to be a flagrant attack on the heart of the Forestry Annex that cannot go unchallenged,” the Ways & Means Democrats wrote in their letter. “Peru must revoke the decree immediately and reverse any action already taken as a result of the decree.”
The Peru Trade Agreement incorporates a unique Forestry Annex that aims to address the crisis of deforestation and rampant illegal logging taking place in Peru. In their letter, the members noted that the enhanced environmental provisions reflected in the Peru Trade Agreement helped ensure passage of that agreement through Congress.
Noting that this new decree follows years of Peruvian Government actions that undermine the environmental commitments it made in its trade agreement with the United States, the members urged Ambassador Lighthizer to “continue to insist that this brazen, bad faith decision be reversed formally by the end of this week. And if it is not, then we urge the USTR to take immediate action to enforce the existing Peru Trade Agreement through any and all appropriate avenues.”
Ways & Means Democrats also reiterated that the strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards – and the provisions of the Forestry Annex in particular – were the primary reason Congress approved the Peru Trade Agreement.
The letter is available HERE.
On December 13, Peru passed DECRETO SUPREMO Nº 122-2018-PCM which absorbs the Organismo de Supervision de los Recursos Forestales (OSINFOR), Peru’s independent forestry oversight and auditing agency, into the Ministry of the Environment. Peru published the decree on December 14.
The Peru Trade Agreement provides in paragraph 3(h)(iii) of Annex 18.3.4 that: “Peru shall establish OSINFOR as required under Forest Law No. 27308. OSINFOR shall be an independent and separate agency . . .”
Ways & Means Democrats and USTR have been working together closely since December 13 to ensure and secure compliance by Peru with the provisions of the Peru Trade Agreement Forestry Annex.