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President Vows to Pursue Global Free Trade in Environmental Goods

Friday, June 28, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A plan for responding to the threat of climate change announced this week by President Obama includes a pledge to work toward the launch of negotiations at the World Trade Organization toward global free trade in environmental goods, including clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal. Over the next year the U.S. will work to secure the participation of countries accounting for 90% of global trade in environmental goods, representing roughly $481 billion in annual environmental goods trade.

According to the plan, this effort will build on the work of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, whose 21 member countries have agreed on a list of 54 environmental goods on which tariffs will be cut to 5% or less by 2015. These goods reportedly include solar batteries, gas turbines, geothermal energy turbines, solar water heaters, bamboo floor panels and wind turbines, tariffs on which can be as high as 35%. The APEC list will serve as a foundation for a WTO agreement, with participating countries expanding the scope by adding products of interest.

The president said the U.S. will also work in the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations toward achieving free trade in environmental services. Other commitments in the plan include post-2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to further reduce fuel consumption and a new goal for energy efficiency standards for dishwashers, refrigerators and other household appliances.

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