in News Departments > Policy Watch
print the content item

Diplomats from 14 World Trade Organization (WTO) members have launched a set of plurilateral talks intended to eliminate tariffs on so-called "environmental goods" - products such as solar panels, wind turbines and other technologies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of sustainable energy.

On July 8, the representatives met in Geneva to start ongoing negotiations for an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). Taking part in the talks are Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the U.S. The WTO says the participating members make up 86% of global environmental goods trade, and the negotiations are open to any WTO member.

Earlier this year, the 14 governments revealed their intention to launch international negotiations to eliminate the tariffs. The talks will build on a list of 54 environmental goods put together by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries in 2012 to reduce import tariffs to 5% or less by the end of 2015.

According to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $1 trillion annually, and some WTO members currently apply tariffs as high as 35% on these products. He says the EGA is the primary trade aspect of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced in June 2013.

"By eliminating tariffs on the technologies we all need to protect our environment, we can make environmental goods cheaper and more accessible for everyone, making essential progress toward our environmental protection and trade policy goals," Froman says in a statement.

Negotiators will meet regularly in Geneva to discuss substance and product coverage. The WTO says the first phase of the negotiations will aim to eliminate tariffs or customs duties on a wide range of environmental goods. A second phase will address the bureaucratic or legal issues that could cause hindrances to trade - known as non-tariff barriers - and environmental services.


Trachte Inc._id1770
Latest Top Stories

Senate Passes Tax Extenders Bill With Wind PTC Extension

The legislation, which passed in the U.S. House earlier this month, will renew the critical production tax credit through the end of 2014 - giving developers only about two weeks left to start construction.


Transmission Study Shows Nebraska Could Handle A Lot More Wind Power

A new report released by the Nebraska Power Review Board finds that the state already has enough infrastructure to accommodate at least 2 GW of additional wind generation.


Can Wind Energy And Birds Coexist? Environmental Group Says Yes

The Environmental Defense Fund, a supporter of responsible wind energy development, points out ways to help mitigate impacts of turbines on birds and bats.


Another Study Finds Wind Turbines Do Not Affect Nearby Property Values

Research conducted by the University of Guelph focused on regions in Ontario, and the conclusion echoes that of previous studies.


Too Little, Too Late? U.S. House Approves Wind PTC Extension

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a tax extenders package that would renew the wind production tax credit (PTC) and about 50 other expired tax breaks through 2014. The wind industry argues the short-term fix is virtually no fix at all.

Hybrid Energy Innovations 2015