USTR - U.S. Proposes More Trade in Environmental Goods, Improved Fisheries Policies
                 
The Office of the United States Trade Representative

U.S. Proposes More Trade in Environmental Goods, Improved Fisheries Policies
05/09/2006

Washington, DC – U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced today the United States has submitted new proposals to increase market access for environmental goods and improve disciplines on fisheries subsidies. The United States has submitted these proposals to advance WTO negotiations aimed at improving environmental stewardship and expanding economic opportunities.

"Eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods will result in greater access for, and lower the cost of, technologies and products that support governments’ environment and development goals, such as improved sanitation and reduced air pollution," said Ambassador Portman. "The U.S. proposals underscore our commitment to trade policies that promote clean air and water and wise management of natural resources."

The United States, joined by six other WTO Members (Canada, the European Communities, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Switzerland), introduced a proposal today that would eliminate tariffs on environmental products, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and addresses non-tariff barriers to these important products.

Global trade in the environmental goods covered by the U.S. proposal totalled approximately $400 billion in 2004.[1] WTO Members charge duties as high as 70 percent on some environmental goods, impeding access to these important technologies. By reducing the prices of environmental goods through substantial reduction or elimination of import tariffs and specific non-tariff barriers, such as customs delays, WTO Members can improve access to products needed to prevent pollution and meet their sustainable development goals.

According to data on environmental indicators available from the World Bank and World Resources Institute, countries that trade more environmental goods either have less pollution or consume energy more efficiently, or both.[2]

In addition to the proposal to improve trade flows in environmental goods, the United States submitted proposed text for discussion this week in the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations. The proposed text addresses two key issues in the negotiations: how government programs to remove excess fishing capacity should be treated in the context of stronger rules; and how to enhance effective coordination between the WTO and other international organizations with fisheries expertise, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The U.S. submission builds on previous efforts by the United States to seek new WTO rules that prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to over-capacity and over-fishing.

Both proposals are available at www.ustr.gov.

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[1] United Nations Merchandise Trade.

[2] "Tariffs and Trade in Environmental Goods" by Mr. Robert Teh and Mr. Bijit Bora is available at the WTO website (www.wto.org).