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US Singapore Cooperation in Environmental Matters

Memorandum of Intent Between the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Singapore on Cooperation in Environmental Matters

Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Remarks at the Signing of a Memorandum of Intent U.S. Department of State, Treaty Room June 13, 2003

Madame Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming this morning to witness the signing of this Memorandum of Intent between the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Singapore on Cooperation in Environmental Matters.

This is an important new environmental initiative between our two countries and I appreciate that Ambassador Chan is here today. I am pleased to be joined by many of my State Department colleagues, reflecting the broad interest within our Department in this initiative. In particular, thanks to Ambassador Lavin; John Turner and Bud Rock from the Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Bureau; and Don Keyser and Randy Schriver of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the presence of lead negotiator of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, Ralph Ives, from the Office of the United States Trade Representative; Assistant Administrator Judith Ayres of the Environmental Protection Agency; officials from the Departments of Interior and Commerce; and representatives of businesses and nongovernmental organizations.

Just over a month ago, President Bush and Prime Minister Goh signed the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the first bilateral free trade agreement between the U.S. and an Asian country. The U.S-Singapore FTA will further enhance an already strong and thriving commercial relationship. Expanding this relationship will benefit workers, consumers, industry, and farmers, resulting in significant economic gains for both countries. Our gathering today, to lay out a framework for environmental cooperation, is an important follow-up to this historic Agreement.

Singapore is America s 12th-largest trading partner; in turn, the United States is Singapore s second-largest trading partner. Our two countries cooperate closely in formulating trade policy and in addressing a wide range of other issues in which we share common interests. For example, together Singapore and the United States help promote liberalized trade through the World Trade Organization. We also encourage Asia-Pacific regional cooperation through the ASEAN Regional Forum. And, we have worked closely with Singapore to address issues of global security. Singapore has been a staunch ally in the global war against terrorism and the war to liberate Iraq.

Under the Memorandum we are signing today, we will promote specific bilateral and regional cooperation projects that advance environmental protection. The United States and Singapore will hold formal consultations, at least biennially, that will develop and implement a Plan of Action that encompasses such environmental projects. In this regard, the Department of State will be working very closely with U.S. implementing agencies. These include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Through this consultative mechanism, environmental issues and concerns -- including those raised in connection with our expanded and liberalized trading relationship -- can be fully discussed and addressed. This will be a key element in our ongoing efforts to make trade and environment policies mutually supportive.

Many of the challenges that we intend to take on through this consultative mechanism -- such as natural resource conservation and illegal trade in timber and endangered species -- are of significant interest not only to our individual countries but to other members of the international community as well. These are areas where we think we can make a difference.

I want to express my appreciation to all of you who played a role in bringing this framework for cooperation to fruition. Many of you spent a significant amount of energy and time. In particular, I want to thank the lead U.S. negotiators: Chris Richard from the Office of Environmental Policy, and Debbie Daumit from the Office of the Legal Adviser. I also want to thank the heads of the Singaporean delegation, Khoo Seow Poh from the Ministry of Environment and Loh Ah Tuan, of the National Environmental Agency.

Now, Madame Ambassador, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts with us before we turn to signing the Memorandum.

[End]

Released on June 13, 2003

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