Remarks by Ambassador Michael Froman at the Coalition for Green Trade Environmental Goods Agreement Event
September 17, 2014
“Thank you, Chairman Wyden, thank you all for organizing this and to the Green Goods Coalition and the NFTC. First of all, it is a pleasure to be in this room, and not be testifying. It’s nice to face this way. So thanks for having us, and as you said, you’ve had a lot of foresight five years ago to call for this, we’re delighted that it’s now been launched with so many countries governing so much of the market, and it just shows that, it is one of the many examples of how Congress does have an impact on trade policy. And it sounds like you’ve also given me the first tariff line for that company in Oregon, that we’ve got to try and get on the list. So thank you for all your support, and to Congressman Blumenauer, who has been active in thinking through environmental issues
“As President Obama said last year when he announced the Climate Action Plan, ‘there is no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.’
“And this Environmental Goods Agreement negotiation is a core component of that plan and a reminder of how trade, done right, can both advance our interests and our values. It’s also a reminder that when it comes to defending our environment, protectionism is no protection.
“By removing barriers to global trade in environmental goods, we can promote technologies that allow better access to safe water, sanitation, and clean energy. We can encourage countries to adopt strategies for sustainable development and help drive innovation that could lead to even cleaner technologies. And the best part is, as Sharon said, is that we can do all of this while helping to support American jobs.
“So that’s why we’ve launched the EGA, and building on the historic APEC agreement, we brought together 14 economies accounting for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods. And together, we’re going to work together to slash tariffs on everything from wind turbines, to water treatment filters, to solar water heaters.
“And this will help drive more Made-in-America exports, allowing more American workers and business to make environmental goods here and sell them everywhere.
“Businesses like Corning, who you’ll be hearing from later, which sells its mobile emissions control technologies to customers around the world but still faces the 17.5 percent tariff in some EGA member markets. You’re going to hear about them later, and about how we are going to make it easier to export, and that means more investment in the United States, more investment in our cities, and more well-paying jobs for American workers.
“We can unlock even more opportunities like that, such as a trillion dollars in trade in environmental goods. Last year, the US accounted for about $100 billion of that trade and it is growing at an annual rate of eight percent. As you know, according to the Department of Commerce, every billion dollars of exports supports about 5,400 jobs here and those jobs pay 13-18 percent more on average than non-export related jobs. So opening markets to environmental goods is good for the environment, and it is good for our economy, it is good for our workers, and it is helping to create good, well-paying jobs to help increase wages and both income inequality as well.
“And that is just the start. Because it is helpful to recall how previous plurilateral agreements have evolved and had an impact on trade over time.
“For example, the Information Technology Agreement grew from 29 members at the beginning to 79 members today, and it now covers 96% of global trade in information technology products. And during its first fifteen years, the world exports of IT products almost tripled in value. So we expect to see high growth in this area as well.
“If we seize this opportunity, we’ll be helping to build the low-carbon, clean technology economy of tomorrow. We’ll bring jobs to our shores while helping to protect the waters beyond them. And we’ll be making good on one of the most fundamental obligations that we all have, and I’m glad to see so many of our colleagues from our Interior Department as well, and that is the plan for a better, more sustainable trajectory of economic growth. I look forward to working with all of you, I look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress, and the business community, to make sure we succeed in doing that.