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  Straits Times 2 Nov 07
US-S'pore plan to tackle green issues
Ending illegal trade in timber and wildlife among items on agenda
By Arti Mulchand

RAMIN wood, found in South-east Asian forests, is coveted for its fine qualities and often ends up in Chinese factories for use in, say, baby cribs sold in the United States.

It is also listed as 'threatened', and is often illegally logged.

The US and Singapore, however, have been working together to try and stamp this out, along with other illegal timber trade that threatens the region's forests, said the US State Department's Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science, MsClaudia McMurray.

And early next year - as part of their roadmap to work together on dealing with green issues over the next two years - they will bring together the countries involved, including Singapore's neighbours, to tackle various issues.

Ms McMurray accompanied a delegation here earlier this week for a biennial review of the US-Singapore Memorandum of Intent on Environmental Cooperation.

She met representatives from various agencies, including the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority and the Maritime and Port Authority.

The two countries share the 'big picture' when it comes to cooperating on green issues, and are keen to push forward with more such collaboration over the next two years, she said.

Also on the agenda was tackling the illegal trade in wildlife, improving energy and vehicle efficiency, and greater use of renewable energy.

Ms McMurray said the US appreciates Singapore's leadership role in the region on green issues.

Singapore, the former chair of the Asean Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities, has helped link several US cities with Asian cities to share expertise in areas like clean air and water.

The memorandum underscores the importance placed by both countries on 'ensuring environmental sustainability, in tandem with enhancing bilateral trade and investment ties', said MsRosa Daniel, deputy secretary of MEWR.

It comes under the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, signed in 2003, which includes cooperation on environmental issues.

The delegation - which left yesterday - also visited the upcoming Marina Barrage, described as an 'engineering feat' by MsMcMurray, who added that the US could look at it in tackling its own water challenges.

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