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Tariff Elimination for Hundreds of Environmental Goods Under Consideration

Friday, August 28, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Tariffs on a wide range of products not ordinarily considered to be environmental goods could be eliminated under an agreement currently being negotiated by the U.S. and 13 other countries. Companies interested in such an outcome have a limited opportunity to indicate their support as part of two separate investigations being conducted by the International Trade Commission.

The Environmental Goods Agreement will build on commitments by members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to reduce tariffs on 54 environmental goods to five percent or less by the end of 2015, with participants examining other products that could be included as well. Under World Trade Organization rules, signatories will be required to apply a final EGA to all WTO members, regardless of whether they have signed the agreement or not.

As a result, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has requested that the ITC investigate the probable economic effect of providing duty-free treatment for imports from all U.S. trading partners of hundreds of goods, including certain types of the following.

- thread, yarn, nylon, fabrics and garments

- automotive parts and accessories

- motorcycles

- raw materials

- fertilizers

- paints and varnishes

- chemicals

- insecticides, fungicides and herbicides

- plastic sheet/film

- plywood, furniture and wood products

- scrap items (plastic, metals and rubber)

- construction materials and equipment                                                                                                           

- articles of ceramic, porcelain and glass

- refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and water heaters

- agricultural, horticultural and heavy machinery

- office machines

- electrical apparatus

- rail equipment, cars and locomotives

- lamps and lighting equipment

Although the ITC has yet to release the schedule for this investigation, its report to USTR is due by Dec. 4 so the window for public participation is expected to be fairly narrow. Importers of affected products should thus start now to consider and draft their positions in support of tariff reduction.

The ITC has initiated a separate but related investigation of the probable economic effect of duty reductions on a smaller set of environmental goods, basically steam turbine parts and certain types of wood flooring. A public hearing in connection with this investigation will be held Sept. 25, requests to appear at this hearing are due by Sept. 11, pre-hearing briefs and statements are due by Sept. 15, and post-hearing briefs and statements and all other written submissions for the record are due by Oct. 2. The ITC’s report is due to USTR by Nov. 4.

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg has experience in investigations of this type and can assist those who wish to participate. For more information please contact Mark Ludwikowski at (202) 730-4967.

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