U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced late last week the Obama administration’s intention to enter into negotiations on a new trade agreement in the World Trade Organization (WTO) aimed at eliminating tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods.
Earlier this year, the U.S. and thirteen other WTO member countries accounting for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, announced their intention to prepare to participate in these negotiations.
Froman stated in the notification that these negotiations will build on U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on environmental goods.
“An agreement on environmental goods can make an important contribution to the domestic and international environmental protection agenda. By eliminating tariffs on the environmental technologies we need to keep our air and water clean, for example, we can make them cheaper and more accessible to everyone,” wrote Froman. “American companies are some of the world’s leading innovators and exporters of environmental technologies, and a WTO environmental goods agreement can support green jobs here at home and level the playing field abroad for U.S. businesses.”
In 2013, the U.S. exported $106 billion of environmental goods, such as wind turbines, solar panels, and wastewater treatment technologies. Global trade in environmental goods is estimated at nearly one trillion dollars annually, and some WTO Members charge tariffs as high as 35 percent on environmental goods.
Negotiations could begin this summer once each WTO Member has finalized its domestic consultation procedures.