While some environmentalists believe that the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) did not go far enough in its provisions to protect the environment, many other activists feel the agreement is ground-breaking and provides much needed protections in various areas, such as the illegal trafficking of animals and animal parts.
The inclusion of wildlife protections in the TPP constitute a major victory for environmentalists and the Obama administration. Once viewed as a deal-breaker, the 12 countries who signed the agreement accepted the terms providing protection for wildlife.
David McCauley, senior vice president for policy and government affairs at the World Wildlife Fund, stated that, “The provisions in the [TPP] go beyond what we have seen in other trade agreements. We see this as a very big deal.”
An earlier draft of the environmental chapter of the TPP was released in early 2014. Environmentalists criticized the chapter as it appeared the United States was retreating from many of its stated objectives. The draft failed to include a provision that would require the agreement’s signatories to abide by existing environmental treaties. The final deal now includes that provision but also provides for new methods to enforce those treaties.
The TPP complements provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under the TPP, countries are required to enforce regulations and laws to protect wildlife covered under CITES. Failure to do so will result in the imposition of economic sanctions. The wildlife provisions of the TPP also requires law enforcement across international borders to cooperate with each other in investigating and preventing illegal animal trafficking. Presently, the illegal trade of animal parts is estimated at about $20 billion annually.
The trade agreement also includes provisions to protect against overfishing, something that has been necessary for years.
While supporters praise the TPP, they note that the provided wildlife protections are only good if the countries enforce them. Glenn Prickett, chief external affairs officer for the Nature Conservancy observed that, “There has to be vigilance in monitoring the agreements and making sure that countries live up to their end of the bargain.”