WTO Members Open Negotiations On Green Goods Trade Agreement

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Members of the World Trade Organization today opened negotiations on the liberalisation of environmental technologies or “green goods.”

According to a European Union release, Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, EU, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States are discussing ways to eliminate tariffs or customs duties on a “broad list of green goods that help clean the air and water, help manage waste, are energy efficient, control air pollution, and help generate renewable energy like solar, wind, or hydroelectric.”

A joint statement announced the launch of the “Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA).”

A second stage of the initiative, which is hoping to attract other members, could address non-tariff barriers and environmental services, according to the release.

This development stems from a 24 January pledge by the members of the initiative to launch negotiations to liberalise global trade in environmental goods, in what was called the “green goods initiative.”

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in a release hailed the initiative and said the 14 participating members represent “86 percent of global trade in environmental goods.” The USTR added that “global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $1 trillion annually, and some Members currently apply tariffs as high as 35 percent on these products.”

“Tariffs add unnecessary costs to the green technologies and solutions we need to protect the environment;” the USTR release said. The EGA is expected to increase market access for US manufacturers, according to the release, which states that the EGA “is the primary trade aspect of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced at Georgetown University in June, 2013.”

Developing countries and civil society have often warned that intellectual property rights attached to new green technologies could represent a barrier to the diffusion of such technologies in the South.


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