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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Trade and Climate Change

12/15/2009 - 4:00pm

On Friday, December 18, President Obama will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. This week's trade spotlight will focus on trade and climate change.

As nations strive to reach a global agreement on climate change in Copenhagen this week and the President prepares to join other heads of state to press for a result at that meeting, USTR is continuing its efforts to harness trade to build a new U.S. green economy.

Today, the United States is one of the top exporters and importers of environmental goods. U.S. exports of environmental goods totaled $83.5 billion in 2008, and U.S. imports of environmental goods totaled $100 billion in 2008. U.S exports of environmental goods have been growing steadily, on average increasing by over 9 percent annually since 2004. Companies like Solyndra in Fremont, California, which is manufacturing solar photovoltaic panels that are soon to be installed across Southern Europe, are expanding to meet the demands of international markets.

USTR is particularly focused on achieving strong results to eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services as part of ongoing WTO Doha negotiations. And as Ambassador Kirk remarked at the WTO Geneva Ministerial two weeks ago, the United States is prepared to join other countries to seek early results on climate-friendly technologies, such as solar panels and stoves and wind and hydraulic turbines.

According to a World Bank study in 2007, elimination of barriers to these technologies could boost their international trade flows by seven to 14 percent. Such action would benefit U.S. exporters of these technologies, while making a contribution to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

USTR's efforts to liberalize trade in these important technologies will help facilitate greater export growth for U.S. manufacturers in the future, creating green jobs along the way, including in U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses.

In addition to ongoing Doha negotiations on environmental goods and services, U.S. engagement in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will create new opportunities to liberalize trade in key environmental technologies.