The BlueGreen Alliance and its 15 labor and environmental partners recognize the importance of fair trade to the proper functioning of the global economy and to meeting the needs of global businesses, workers, and consumers. America’s economy depends in large part on our ability to export domestically manufactured goods to markets around the world. However, we are also deeply concerned about the potential economic and environmental impacts of international trade agreements currently being discussed and negotiated, including the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which is the subject of this investigation.
Too often, international trade has enabled a global race to the bottom for workers and the erosion of environmental protections. Instead of free trade, which simply removes as many tariff and non-tariff barriers as possible, the United States should be negotiating “fair trade” agreements that improve quality of life and raise standards protecting workers, consumers, and the environment.
In the context of the current EGA negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative has sought to expand the list of environmental goods identified by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. However, while some of the goods identified to date are arguably beneficial to the environment, the list has grown to increasingly include a host of goods for which the connection to environmental benefit is at best tangential and, at worst, actively detrimental to the environment.