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Green International Trade Missions

2009 March 6

About the author: Jessica Arnold joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s Environmental Technologies Team in 2007 as an associate team member. Last spring, she spent a month in Sub-Saharan Africa with U.S. companies on a multi-sector trade mission designed to help facilitate U.S. exports to the region.

If you search the Internet for images of Lagos, Nigeria, you’ll probably find many photos. With more than 120 million people living in Nigeria, it is the most heavily populated country in Sub-Saharan Africa and, until recently, has put very little focus on the environment. Nigeria’s president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, said in 2008 that, “the country’s annual losses stemming from environmental degradation total nearly $5.1 billion.”

In the spring of 2008, I participated in a multi-sector trade mission to three countries (Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa) in Sub-Saharan Africa led by the International Trade Administration (ITA). Trade missions are one of the key tools ITA uses to help U.S. businesses export products and services and enter new markets.

So, with President Ya’Adua’s comment in mind, I thought, “We’re off to visit three countries that want newer and more efficient technologies to help them clean their air, their water, and their waste.” I set a goal for myself to make sure that multiple U.S. companies focused on environmental technology products were part of the trade mission and would have the opportunity to begin or expand exports to these markets where their products and services could truly be helpful.

I was very happy to find that the U.S. industry was both enthusiastic about and capable of filling this need as four of the 13 companies on the trade mission were environmental firms or involved with environmental technologies in some way. I’m also thrilled to report that as a direct result of this trade mission, at least one company, a renewable energy company based in Michigan, secured contracts to develop solar efficiency projects in Nigeria and South Africa.

As green technologies developed by U.S. industry continue to advance and the interest and demand for products and services derived from those technologies from foreign markets grows, ITA will be leading three green trade missions this spring: an environmental technology mission to Italy, Greece, and Croatia; a solar energy mission to India; and a green building products and services mission to Southeast Asia. I look forward to returning to Greenversations in the future to share experiences and report on successes from these trade missions. In the meantime, please visit us at: Export.gov.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Maria Duque permalink
    March 18, 2009

    I am a graduate student at the University of Miami in an Environmental Health course.
    I understand part of EPA’s job is to write environmental regulations and enforce them; to do so EPA works very close with Congress. The United States government as part of its war on drugs to eliminate the cultivation of coca in Colombia launched legislation in 2000 until 2008 known as Plan Colombia. During that process, US Congress approved the use of Fusarium as a biological control agent to kill coca crops in Colombia; according to the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the year 2004 had a record rate of aerial glyophosphate spraying in Colombia. The use of these substances where very controversial because it damaged both legal and illegal crops, where hazardous for environment and produced adverse health effects upon those exposed to the herbicides. When US Congress writes an environmental law to be applied within the United States territory EPA implements it by writing regulations and also setting national standards that states and tribes enforce through their own regulations. Does EPA still have inference on regulations writing and setting standards when Congress launches environmental legislations regarding other countries, like is the case of Plan Colombia? Was this the case when Congress approved the use of Fusarium and glyphosphate in Colombia?

  2. Sheila Kaupert permalink
    March 19, 2009

    Hi Jessica,

    I am completing a master’s in public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and I am currently taking a course on environmental health. Given that we are living in an era of extremely heightened globalization, we are learning a great deal about environmental health on both a local and global level. I am currently researching the export of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries, where dumping of extremely dangerous materials, from nuclear to electronic waste, is not uncommon. Moreover, we are exporting waste to countries with no formal or safe recycling technologies/methods.

    Trade missions that aim to facilitate U.S. exports of technologies to help these countries heal their environment and begin to properly deal with waste is much needed. I just have a couple questions: 1. How expensive are these technologies? How are these technologies/services sustainable for countries with very little in terms of funds and resources? And will this include the capabilities needed for dealing with a growing e-waste problem (where people in scrap yards are being used as cheap labor for dismantling products containing dangerous materials like computers and cell phones?

  3. Anonymous permalink
    August 24, 2010

    Hi Maria: Please confirm if Fusarium has been used in Colombia, where, when, how much and if possible a picture of the affected plants.
    Thank you
    Jaime G Gomez, MD,

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