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Published on February 3rd, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Global Free Trade Initiative For Enviromental Products Announced

February 3rd, 2014 by  

Last week a major trading body, a group of 14 WTO members including the US, announced an initiative aimed at making a major change to environmental trade: “to negotiate a plurilateral deal that will eliminate tariffs on environmental products.”

Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

This “global free trade” would allow for easier exchange regarding trade of environmental products. Increasing availability of products that renew and protect the environment has to be good, right? The WTO members are supporting a system of healthful trade as reported by the Office of the United States Trade Representative:

Today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the launch of a new initiative led by a group of World Trade Organization (WTO) Members to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods such as solar water heaters, wind turbines, and catalytic converters. The United States is joined in this effort by Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chinese Taipei.  USTR will work with Congress, business and environmental communities to ensure that the negotiations advance U.S. environmental objectives and support economic growth, green jobs, and innovation.

“Increased trade in environmental goods is an important part of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, a key objective of U.S. leadership in global trade policy, and a potential driver of job growth here at home.  This new effort will build on the United States’ work with Asia-Pacific partners to make renewable and clean energy technologies cheaper and more accessible for everyone,“  Ambassador Froman said. “This effort among like-minded WTO partners will also help to maintain momentum in Geneva for the kinds of fresh, credible approaches to trade negotiation and results that led to success at Bali last year.”

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development sees this as a forward-thinking move. This is the beginning of changing the future regarding tariffs with“green goods.” It also says that the agreement is meant to be a “future oriented” pact, but the length of time until trade is influenced is unsure.

“We are convinced that one of the most concrete, immediate contributions that the WTO and its members can make to protect our planet is to seek agreement to eliminate tariffs for goods that we all need to protect our environment and address climate change,” the participants said in a joint statement on Friday, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The group plans to use the list of environmental goods agreed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group as a starting point for their discussions. APEC members had announced in 2012 that they would reduce tariffs on a list of 54 green goods — such as wind turbines and solar panels — to five percent or less by the end of 2015. However, that regional pact was non-binding for its 21 members, and featured many products that already have low tariffs. (See Bridges Weekly, 12 September 2012)

Read more about trade and tariffs:

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, anthropologist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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