Trade: A Potential Bright Spot in a Lackluster Market

Dawn Kristof Champney

This month, WWEMA held its 105th Annual Meeting of Members. As part of the event, during our Legislative and Regulatory Committee Meeting, I gave my semi-annual State of the Union (As It Pertains to Water) Address. My title for the talk was “Much Ado About Nothing”—because, of course, very little has happened related to water at the federal level in either the legislative or regulatory arenas this year.

One area where we are seeing some activity and on which I was very pleased to report, however, is trade. Currently there are two exciting developments taking place across two oceans that could expand export opportunities for water- and wastewater-related technologies.
 
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the foundation of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiators are working hard to complete an agreement this year designed to liberalize trade and investment—including free trade in environmental goods and services—among the 13 member countries. TPP countries collectively account for 40% of total U.S. goods trade, with exports to the TPP countries totaling $810.4 billion in 2011.  
 
Work has just begun on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the U.S. and European Union. The U.S. and EU are each other’s largest economic partners, with $2.6 billion worth of goods and services flowing between each daily and almost $4 trillion invested in each other’s economies, creating the world’s largest investment relationship. Here we have an opportunity to substantially improve access to government procurement opportunities at all levels of government, enhance regulatory cooperation and give mutual recognition to each other’s standards.

WWEMA, which holds several seats on the Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Commerce and is a member of the Trade and Environmental Policy Advisory Committee of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, is playing an active role in the discussions related to each of these partnership agreements. The potential export opportunities are significant, and the resulting benefits to our industry and to our national economy—from increased production, to job creation, to improved revenues—make their passage essential as we look to the future and to the global needs of the water and wastewater management community.

For more information on WWEMA and the work it is doing on behalf of water and wastewater technology providers, please visit www.wwema.org.

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Dawn Kristof Champney is president of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn., a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that has represented the interests of manufacturers serving the water supply and wastewater treatment industry since 1908. Kristof Champney can be reached at info@wwema.org.

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