Press Advisory – Expertise on new “green goods” trade commitment

24 January 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Over a dozen WTO members - including the US, EU, and China - announced today in Davos, Switzerland a commitment to achieve "global free trade" in environmental goods, with plans to eventually launch formal negotiations. The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) has worked closely with lead participants over the past several months as they prepared to kick-off this process.

The agreement proposed today will likely take the shape of a "plurilateral," with concessions required only from the agreement's members. However, the benefits would be extended to the WTO's entire membership once a ‘critical mass' of countries sign on. The group has said that it aims to eliminate tariffs on a broad list of products, building upon the 54-product list agreed to by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members in 2012.

Background

Addressing obstacles to trade in environmental goods, particularly in clean energy technologies, is associated with valuable opportunities for sustainable development. Reducing trade barriers and strengthening markets is important not only for commercial reasons, but also for its potential to contribute effectively to climate change action and green growth, as well as improved energy access for the 1.6 billion people who lack it.

Environmental goods and services negotiations were included in 2001 as part of the WTO's Doha Round mandate. Disagreement over environmental goods definitions and approaches slowed those discussions, with various proposals struggling to gain traction.

In this context, ICTSD has been proposing a plurilateral trade agreement on clean energy technologies, as part of a broader push for trade policies that optimise the potential for sustainable development. Over the past decade, ICTSD has produced a rich body of research in this area, in collaboration with leading experts and in consultation with policy makers from trade, climate, and energy departments.

For editors working on this latest environmental goods story, we are able to arrange a background discussion, as well as on-the-record interviews with our experts.

Contact:

-Andrew Crosby, Managing Director: +41 (0)22 917 83 35

-Ingrid Jegou, Manager, Global Platform on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainable Energy: +41 (0)22 917 88 20