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U.S. Trade Representative Froman, Fellow Trade Ministers Plan New Talks Toward Increased Trade in Environmental Goods

January 24, 2014

Talks among WTO partners will take place in Geneva 

Davos, Switzerland - 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.” 

Total global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $955 billion annually, and some countries currently apply tariffs as high as 35 percent.  Tariffs add unnecessary costs to the green technologies needed to protect the environment.  The group of WTO Members participating in today’s announcement account for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods.  The group has already begun to reach out to other countries to encourage them to join the initiative, with the objective of bringing all major traders into the negotiations.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forums in 2011 and 2012, the United States led a group of 20 diverse economies to commit to cut tariffs to five percent or less on a list of 54 environmental goods including solar water heaters, wind turbines and water treatment filters.  The initiative announced today will also complement U.S. led efforts to remove barriers to global services trade, including environmental services, such as air pollution monitoring, and solid and hazardous waste treatment, as part of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). 

For the text of the joint announcement, please click here.