I was pleased to attend yesterday’s official launch of the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) here in Geneva. USTR and their thirteen negotiating counterparts – Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chinese Taipei – kicked off the first round of talks during a press event. Manufacturers welcome these efforts to build on the progress already achieved by the APEC forum in 2011 to eliminate and reduce tariffs on green goods.
The Coalition for Green Trade, co-chaired by the NAM, National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), was launched this week and released a global sign-on letter by a broad range of international industry associations in support of the EGA talks.
The NAM believes that, in order to address and eliminate trade barriers, the United States must leverage all available tools by securing ambitious, high-standard commitments in ongoing trade agreement negotiations – including in the WTO EGA negotiations. On behalf of our nearly 13,000 member companies, the NAM strongly supports the negotiation of a high-standard, ambitious EGA that significantly reduces and eliminates tariffs on a wide range of green goods and technologies.
With global tariffs on environmental products as high as 35 percent in some nations, a significant reduction or elimination of these trade barriers will have a substantial, positive impact on manufacturers in the United States who develop and produce goods aimed at solving environmental challenges, enhancing their ability to decrease the cost of their products to consumers both inside and outside the United States, thereby, growing sales and creating new manufacturing jobs. A strong EGA will have other significant benefits, as well, from improving access to important green and energy efficient technologies for businesses and consumers worldwide, to improving manufacturers’ ability to enhance their sustainability.
For manufacturers such as The Coca-Cola Company, the EGA represents a significant opportunity to eliminate tariffs on the environmentally sustainable goods they procure in their global supply chain. As a company that operates in more than 200 countries around the world, their procurement system is committed to environmental sustainability. A global trade agreement on “green goods” will allow The Coca-Cola Company and many others to build out supply chains that bring environmentally friendly technologies to markets and consumers that might not otherwise find them cost-effective. Three priorities in these negotiations for The Coca-Cola Company are: 1) systems that help to provide clean drinking water; 2) lower emission, more efficient refrigeration units; and, 3) plant-based PET plastics for their bottles.
The NAM supports APEC’s list of 54 environmental goods eligible for duty reduction or elimination; however, we believe that list is far too limited given the breadth and significant growth in this sector. Therefore, we believe it is critical that these negotiations substantially broaden the list of goods eligible for tariff liberalization across a broad range of industries whose products improve energy efficiency, sustainability and serve other environmental remediation purposes.
Yesterday the NAM is participating in two roundtable events with stakeholders to discuss shared goals and objectives for the EGA talks and to advocate for strong outcomes that will ultimately tear down barriers to trade and help manufacturers grow their exports. We are working closely with our industry counterparts from other participating nations, as well as with U.S. and foreign government officials to build a strong foundation of support for the EGA and to start early towards building critical mass for key elements of an ambitious agreement.