The US, EU and 12 other governments in the WTO have opened negotiations on a trade deal aimed at ending tariffs on environmental goods such as wind turbines and solar panels.
The WTO members participating in the talks announced yesterday in Geneva account for 86 percent of global trade in the products, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said.
The US exported US$106 billion in goods such as turbines, solar panels and filters to treat wastewater last year, the USTR said.
US President Barack Obama’s administration is beginning initiatives to damp the effects of climate change and getting started on the accord is part of that effort, the USTR said.
The administration on June 2 proposed standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, a step that rankled members of the nation’s Republican Party and utility companies that use coal-fired generators that release carbon dioxide to make electricity.
“Today’s launch of the Environmental Goods Agreement underscores environmental protection on all fronts,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement.
The agreement may also help US exporters gain from the burgeoning international market for clean-energy goods.
The US, Taiwan, China and the 28-nation EU are among participants in the talks that have been ensnared in trade disputes over solar-energy equipment in recent years.
According to the US trade office, tariffs on environmental goods can be as high as 35 percent of the value of the products.
The nations that participate in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings have agreed to cut tariffs on 54 environmental products by 5 percent by the end of next year.
The governments involved in the talks intend to expand the list, which includes solar panels, catalytic converters and waste incinerators, according to a fact sheet. Froman notified the US Congress on March 21 of the administration’s intention to participate in the accord.
In addition to the US, Taiwan, China, and the EU, the WTO members in talks are Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.