Washington, DC –The United States and 13 other WTO Members, representing 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, launched negotiations on the new Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) today.
Global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $1 trillion annually, and some Members currently apply tariffs as high as 35 percent on these products. Tariffs add unnecessary costs to the green technologies and solutions we need to protect the environment. By taking action to eliminate those barriers, the EGA can make a major contribution to green growth and sustainable development. It will also increase market access for U.S. manufacturers and workers – supporting more green jobs.
The EGA is the primary trade aspect of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced at Georgetown University in June, 2013.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced U.S. plans to prepare for the initiative earlier this year, and today’s launch marks an important step forward in our efforts to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods, such as wind turbines, water treatment filters, and solar water heaters. The United States is joined in the EGA negotiations by Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chinese Taipei.
“Today’s launch of the Environmental Goods Agreement underscores President Obama’s commitment to tackling environmental protection on all fronts,” said Ambassador Froman. “The Obama Administration is advancing a trade policy that reflects our core values and unlocks new economic opportunities for American exporters and families – especially when it comes to fostering exports of Made-in-America environmental goods. 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.”
On March 21, Ambassador Froman notified Congress of the Administration’s intent to enter into negotiations on the EGA, which aims to eliminate tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods. Since then, USTR has engaged in broad consultations on the objectives and priorities for the EGA negotiations, including by soliciting written comments, holding a public hearing on June 5, and meeting with Congress, businesses, environmental groups, and labor unions. We will continue to consult with these and other stakeholders as the negotiations progress in order to ensure that the EGA is commercially meaningful and environmentally credible, and delivers concrete benefits for the United States.
For the text of USTR’s notification letter to Congress, please click here.