Liberalization of Environmental Goods and Services: Identifying products used predominantly for addressing climate change

1 July 2010
Rue de Lausanne 154, 1211, Geneva

The elimination or reduction of both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in such goods can contribute to the diffusion of energy efficiency (EE) and the use of renewable energy (RE) technologies. Yet, building consensus on how the WTO negotiations could make the best-possible contribution to harnessing such potential through trade liberalisation has proven to be complicated. Some have argued that it may be easier to build consensus around goods with a predominantly environmental use, as potential environmental benefits are more certain.

The objective of this informal dialogue is to support understanding of the possible environmental, trade and developmental implications of the WTO negotiations on environmental goods and services (EGS) by analysing the case of climate-related single-use environmental goods (EGs). This meeting will analyze both pragmatic and substantive issues involved in the identification of predominantly single-use EGs linked with climate-related technologies, in particular in existing tariff classifications. It also analyses, to the extent possible, corresponding trade flows, tariffs and NTBs. The purpose of this meeting is not to propose a specific subset of climate-related EGs or any specific negotiating approaches in the context of the EGS negotiations, but rather to offer an open space for discussing relevant issues related to products that are predominantly used to address climate change. Key issues addressed in the note presented at this meeting include the following:

  • Which climate-related single-use EGs can be identified in tariff classifications, in particular the 6-digit HS? What single-use EGs (that are relevant from an international-trade perspective) could be identified as “ex-out” items?
  • What are the principal market drivers of climate-related single-use EGs and what are the implications for international trade flows?
  • What are the tariff and non-tariff obstacles to trade?
  • What are the possible drawbacks of focusing trade liberalisation on finished products?
  • Could trade liberalisation of climate-related single-use EGs contribute to a more balanced outcome of EGS the negotiations?

This brownbag lunch meeting is taking place conveniently alongside the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Environment Regular and Special Session meetings on 1 July.

This Roundtable will take place at the WTO, Room W (subject to change, please keep update through the electronic message boards). We would be grateful if you could confirm your participation to < >. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments. We hope you are able to join us and look forward to welcoming you.


13h00 – 13h30: Welcome with brownbag lunch

13h30 – 13h45: Introductory remarks by the organizers

13h45 – 14h30:

· Identifying single end-use products, Ronald Steenblik, OECD
· Trade flows and barriers affecting single end-use climate friendly goods, Rene Vossenaar, ICTSD consultant
14h30 – 15h00: Open discussion

15h00: Close