On September 9, 2012, Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) agreed on a list of environmental goods on which, according to their 2011 pledge, they will cut tariffs to five percent or less by 2015. This marks the first time that trade negotiations have produced such a list of environmental goods for tariff cuts. This historic outcome will make a significant contribution to the Obama Administration’s goals to increase exports and jobs, as well as its strong commitment to promoting green growth and sustainable development.
The APEC Environmental Goods List
The APEC List of Environmental Goods includes 54 environmental goods, including such core products as:
• Renewable and clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, and gas and wind turbines, on which tariffs in the region are currently as high as 35 percent;
• Wastewater treatment technologies, such filters and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection equipment, on which tariffs in the region are currently as high as 21 percent;
• Air pollution control technologies, such as soot removers and catalytic converters, on which tariffs in the region are as high as 20 percent;
• Solid and hazardous waste treatment technologies, such as waste incinerators, and crushing and sorting machinery, on which tariffs in the region are currently as high as 20 percent; and
• Environmental monitoring and assessment equipment, such as air and water quality monitors, and manometers to measure pressure, and water delivery systems, on which tariffs in the region are currently as high as 20 percent.
The United States exported $27 billion of these environmental goods to the APEC region in 2011, of which $1.2 billion faced tariffs above five percent. Thus, the tariff cuts on these products will contribute importantly to President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal to double exports in five years.
APEC regional trade in the products on the APEC List of Environmental Goods in 2010 totaled $185 billion, and APEC makes up 60 percent of world exports of these products. Reducing tariffs on these environmental goods will help APEC businesses and citizens access important environmental technologies at lower cost, which in turn will produce environmental benefits and improve the quality of life and living standards of people across the Asia-Pacific region due to a cleaner environment. It will also contribute significantly to APEC’s core mission to promote free and open trade and investment, as embodied in the Bogor Goals.
The 2012 APEC Leaders’ Statement and the APEC List of Environmental goods can be found on APEC’s website here.
APEC's History of Leadership on Environmental Goods
APEC has a long history of leadership on promoting trade and investment in environmental goods, dating back to the 1990s. APEC’s early work created a basic understanding of this dynamic sector and its importance to the region’s future trade and green growth objectives. It also added momentum to launch global negotiations to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services as part of the WTO Doha Round negotiations. However, after a decade of tremendous efforts on the part of WTO Members to advance this work, and despite hundreds of product nominations, no consensus could be reached on a list of environmental goods in Geneva. Thus, APEC’s agreement to cap tariffs at five percent or less based on this list of 54 products will not only support trade and investment and advance green growth objectives in the APEC region, it is also expected to contribute meaningfully to the WTO’s mission.