The White House on Friday notified Congress of its intent to enter into negotiations on a new trade agreement in the World Trade Organization aimed at eliminating tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods.
Earlier this year, the United States and 13 other WTO members, accounting for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, announced their intention to prepare to participate in these negotiations. The members are Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan.
The negotiations will begin in Geneva, Switzerland, as soon as each member has finalized its domestic consultation procedures.
“By eliminating tariffs on the environmental technologies we need to keep our air and water clean, for example, we can make them cheaper and more accessible to everyone,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement.
In 2013, the United States exported $106 billion of environmental goods, such as wind turbines, solar panels and wastewater treatment technologies. Global trade in environmental goods is estimated to be nearly $1 trillion a year, and some WTO members charge tariffs as high as 35 percent.
Industry groups praised the Obama administration for getting behind the global effort to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods.
“This initiative is a bit of mom-and-apple-pie. It’s good for economic growth and for the environment, and we hope it will be a priority for negotiators in Geneva,” said Jake Colvin, National Foreign Trade Council’s vice president for global trade issues.