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U.S. concludes environmental spat with Peru using trade treaty

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government, fearing Peru had recently acted to weaken its ability to stop illegal logging, has used a 2009 trade treaty’s environmental provisions to stop Lima from eliminating its forestry regulator, the United States Trade Representative said on Tuesday.

In January, the United States requested consultations under the environmental chapter of the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), which went into force in 2009, to oppose Peru’s decision to place its logging regulator OSINFOR under the environmental ministry.

The trade deal, agreed in 2007, included a provision requiring OSINFOR to be an independent agency. Americans feared the Peruvian move could have undermined OSINFOR’s independence and hindered its ability to effectively enforce Peru’s forestry laws, USTR said.

Following technical consultations in January and deliberations by the PTPA environmental affairs council in February, Peru reversed course, annulling the December decision on April 9.

“This shows that strong enforcement works,” USTR chief Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

Environmentalists have long criticized Peru for not doing enough to keep wood from being harvested illegally from its forests for export. Peru controls a small piece of the Amazon, a tropical forest home to unrivalled biodiversity and vast stores of carbon dioxide that fuel global warming when destroyed.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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