United States and Panama Join to Protect the Environment under the Trade Promotion Agreement

Ministry of Commerce's Chief of International Negotiations, Norman Harris; Minister of Environment, Emilio Sempris; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, Brian Doherty; and Director for Environment and Natural Resources, Laura Buffo.

Panama City, October 3 – The United States and Panama launched the Secretariat for Environmental Enforcement Matters (SEEM), which promotes public participation in the monitoring, enforcement, and submission of environmental laws in Panama. Maintaining strong dialogue and public engagement, the United States and Panama also held meetings on environmental issues as part of the commitments under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. These included meetings of the Environmental Affairs Council, the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, and a session open to the public.

The Minister of Environment Emilio Sempris chaired the Panamanian Delegation, while Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Brian Doherty, headed the United States delegation.

The Environmental Affairs Council discussed the United States and Panama’s progress in implementing, complying, and enforcing obligations within the Environment Chapter of the Trade Promotion Agreement. The United States highlighted actions taken to combat illegal fishing, implement the End Wildlife Trafficking Act to combat wildlife trafficking, and environmental enforcement policies adopted by the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies, which resulted in the recovery of almost US$5 billion in penalties, fines, and other payments in 2017.

The Commission on Environmental Cooperation approved its second Work Program for 2018-2022, establishing the following priorities for cooperative activities: strengthen the capacity to develop, implement, and enforce environmental laws and regulations; reinforce biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of protected areas; improve private sector environmental performance and compliance with environmental laws; and increase environmental education, transparency, and public participation to enhance environmental protection and enforcement of environmental laws.

During the public session, representatives from civil society, business, academia, and delegates discussed the implementation of the Environment Chapter of the Trade Promotion Agreement and identified opportunities for future environmental cooperation.