At the recent World Economic Forum held this past January in Davos, Switzerland, a group of World Trade Organization (WTO) members, including the U.S., announced the launch of an agreement to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods through the WTO. The U.S. was joined by Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and Chinese Taipei.
These global trading partners, which collectively account for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, pledged to work together and with other WTO members to further reduce tariffs on the APEC List of Environmental Goods. The negotiations would likely be done as a plurilateral agreement, much like the WTO Information Technology Agreement, and would take effect upon completion and when a critical mass of WTO members join.
The list includes products that directly and positively contribute to green growth and sustainable development, such as solar water heaters, wind turbines and catalytic converters. APEC members initially committed to reduce applied tariff rates on these products to 5 percent or less by the end of 2015. The recent announcement builds on this commitment and seeks to expand the list of products – currently 54 – and eliminate all tariffs, thereby achieving duty free trade. For more information on the APEC List of Environmental Goods, click here.
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman welcomed the announcement. No date has been set for negotiations. For more information on USTR’s remarks, as well as a statement by the WTO trading partners, click here.