With time in short supply, senior trade officials from the 21 APEC member economies are ramping up efforts to meet their landmark commitment to cut tariffs on environmental goods by year’s end. The implications for the future of global trade and development are substantial.
APEC members meeting in Boracay through this week are briefing one another on their progress in reducing tariffs on an APEC list of 54 environmental goods such as waste water purifying equipment, solar panels and wind turbines, and working out technical issues to bring levels down to five per cent or less. The region’s Leaders launched the undertaking and set a three-year deadline in 2012.
In play is the first multilateral tariff-cutting arrangement in 18 years. Its completion would help to lower the cost of goods on the APEC list, improving access to them as markets grapple with the effects of development, demand for stronger environmental protection rises and new targets in areas like carbon emissions and renewable energy are considered.
More than 70 per cent of these goods produce renewable energy, are used for environmental monitoring, analysis and assessment, or strengthen air pollution controls, according the APEC Policy Support Unit.
Bringing the initiative to a successful conclusion would boost a USD500 billion global industry and with it, jobs and economic growth in the region. Twelve of the top 30 global exporters of environmental goods are APEC members, including half of the top ten, the International Trade Center reports.
It could also facilitate tariff-lowering negotiations on environmental goods that began under the World Trade Organization last year, building on APEC’s work.
“Officials are putting forward their plans for implementing tariff reductions on the APEC list of environmental goods,” said John Larkin, Chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, the coordinating body for the initiative. “Having a clear and consistent interpretation of the commitments in the APEC list and how tariff cuts will be put into effect is key to the success of the initiative.”
Officials are collaborating with one another to ensure clarity among APEC members as well as their own domestic institutions and businesses on how tariff cuts will proceed—helping to facilitate buy-in. The progress of APEC members in implementing the tariff cuts will be discussed by APEC Trade Ministers when they meet here on 23-24 May.
“Transparency, open lines of communication and recognition of the potentially significant benefits of greater access to environmental goods for economies and people’s lives will play an important role in implementing the APEC commitments on environmental goods,” concluded Larkin.
Ten things to look out for during the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Boracay are detailed at this link.
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