Sustainable development | Brussels, 24 January 2014
EU in joint launch of WTO negotiations for green goods agreement
In the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos the EU, together with 13 other WTO members, today pledged to launch negotiations in the WTO on liberalising trade in so-called ’green goods’. The initiative builds on the ground-breaking success of the 9th WTO Ministerial in Bali last month.
The aim of this initiative is to eliminate tariffs on a broad list of green goods. The discussions will not start from scratch but will build upon the APEC list of 54 green goods. Talks will first focus on goods, but the WTO members behind the initiative hope to create a 'living agreement' that will grow and evolve according to future needs, thereby making it possible to address other barriers to trade in green goods and services.
'Green goods' are seen as a vital component in sustainable development and cover areas as diverse as tackling air pollution, managing waste, or generating renewable energy like wind or solar. Developing countries, in particular, which, in addition to environmental issues, often face challenges posed by rapid urbanisation, are expected to gain from easier and cheaper access to environmental goods, services and technologies. This initiative will contribute to meeting the EU new ambitious green-house gas emissions reduction and renewable energy targets announced in the Commission's 2030 climate and energy framework this week.
"I'm delighted to launch this 'green goods' initiative," declared EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "The EU is firmly committed to promoting and liberalising trade in 'green goods and services'. All WTO members need better access to the goods and technologies that protect our environment and combat climate change. Today's commitment is an important trade contribution towards addressing key environmental challenges as part of our broader, ambitious sustainable growth agenda"
The EU Trade Commissioner also called upon other WTO Members to join the effort to create a global green goods agreement that would cover most of world trade and generate benefits for all WTO Members.
The green goods initiative launched today in Davos brings together Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Chinese Taipei, the EU, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the US. Collectively, they account for around 90% of the world trade in green goods. The EU has long been a strong advocate of liberalising trade in green goods and services at bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral level and it welcomed the initiative by Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in October 2013 to "explore opportunities in the WTO to build on" their commitment to reduce tariffs on a list of 54 green goods by the end of 2015. The future green goods agreement will be anchored in the WTO and based on its principle of Most Favoured Nation. Today's pledge will help advance the Doha mandate on liberalising green goods and services first agreed in the WTO in 2001.
For more information
Joint statement by all countries involved in the Green Goods Initiative
Press release: 2030 climate and energy goals for a competitive, secure and low-carbon EU economy, 22 January 2014
Overview: Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference, 3-7 December 2013, Bali