Negotiations start for freer trade in environmental goods

Last week government representatives from 14 countries and groups, including the European Union, China, the US, and Canada agreed to launch negotiations to lower tariffs on environmental goods. The Office of the US Trade representative said that the group hopes to conclude an agreement under the umbrella of the World Trade Organization, but not necessarily engaging all WTO members, by January 2017.

Some critics have already said that the agreement may help sales of products which are not environmentally responsible. Clearly this depends on the definition of environmental goods that is used in the agreement. It is also important to note that, to date, tariffs have not been designed around environmental objectives. As the world moves towards freer trade, tariffs will likely be removed from all types of goods, Even if the definition of environmental goods is not perfect from an environmental perspective, an agreement which lowers tariffs on truly environmental goods as well as on some which are not so environmental may help encourage more environmental technology installations around the world.

A listing of environmental goods has already been prepared for Asia Pacific trade discussions, involving some of the same countries, and it is expected that this list will be a starting point, and maybe also the end point, for this new round of trade negotiations. The APEC negotiations have defined environmental goods generally as:

  • Bamboo flooring panels.
  • Steam or other vapour generating boilers (other than central heating hot water boilers capable also of producing low pressure steam) and their parts and auxiliary plant, including air pollution control equipment.
  • Renewable energy plant.
  • Turbines designed for the production of geothermal energy (renewable energy) and co-generation which allows for a more effective use of energy than conventional generation) .
  • Gas turbines of a power exceeding 5,000 kw.
  • Gas turbines for clean power generation including recovered landfill gas, coal mine vent gas, or biogas, or natural gas [the schedule uses the term ‛national gas’] and their parts.
  • Engine and motor parts.
  • Wind turbine blades, hubs, and parts.
  • Industrial or laboratory furnaces and ovens, including incinerators, non-electric.
  • Waste incinerators; incinerators for radioactive waste; and parts.
  • Flue gas treatment systems for incinerators.
  • Instantaneous or storage water heaters, non-electric (other than instantaneous gas water heaters).
  • Solar water heaters and parts.
  • Dryers, other: sludge driers.
  • Machinery for liquefying air or other gases, for separation and removal of pollutants through condensation.
  • Industrial machinery, plant or equipment for the treatment of materials, by process involving a change in temperature.
  • Machinery, plant or laboratory equipment – other machinery, plant and equipment: other.
  • Chlorine dioxide generators.
  • Evaporators and dryers, for water and waste water treatment. Condensers and cooling towers.
  • Biogas reactors; digestion tanks and biogas refinement equipment.
  • Anaerobic biogas reactors, digestion tanks and biogas refinement equipment. PV cell coaters. Includes fluidised bed systems (bubbling, circulating, etc.) and biomass boilers. Can also help anaerobic digestion of organic matter.
  • Filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for liquids: for filtering or purifying water.
  • Household filtering or purifying water machinery and equipment, device for the removal of heavy metal ions for industry uses; membrane bioreactor; high rate anaerobic reactors; reverse osmosis filters for industry uses; water purification machine; EDI ultra-pure water equipment.
  • Press filters; etching solution recycling equipment for printed circuit board; equipment for the recycling and treatment of reclaimed water; ion exchanger; complete sets of equipment for alkali recovery of black liquor; aerator; electrodialysis devices.
  • Refrigerant recovery and recycling units.
  • Filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for gases.
  • Baghoused dust collectors for industry uses; cyclone dust collectors for industry uses; other dust collectors for industry uses; flue gas desulfurization apparatus; spraying saturator; concentrated adsorption – catalytic combustion equipment; activated carbon fiber – granular activated carbon equipment.
  • Laminar flow units, catalytic converter and carbon dioxide removal unit imported to use at natural gas service station.
  • Physical, mechanical, chemical or electrostatic filters and purifiers for the removal of volatile organic compounds, solid or liquid particles in gases, etc.
  • Indoor hazardous gas purification equipment, especially for formaldehyde and benzene.
  • Centrifuges, including centrifugal dryers; filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus, for liquids or gases: parts (other than of centrifuges and centrifugal dryers): filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for water and parts thereof.
  • Parts of household filtering and purifying machines for gases.
  • Crushing or grinding machines.
  • Machinery for sorting, screening, separating, washing, crushing, grinding, mixing or kneading earth, stone, ores or other mineral substances, in solid (including powder or paste) form; machinery for agglomerating, shaping or moulding solid mineral fuels, ceramic paste, unhardened cements, plastering materials or other mineral products in powder or paste form; machines for forming foundry moulds of sand. Crushing or grinding machines, mixing or kneading machines, excluding concrete or mortar mixers.
  • Waste compactor machines. Used for solid waste treatment or recycling.
  • Mixing, kneading, crushing, grinding, screening, sifting, homogenizing, emulsifying or stirring machines.
  • Other machines & mechanical appliances, other than machines & mechanical appliances for treating metal, incl. Industrial catalysers, electric wire coil-winders/ mixing/ kneading/ crushing/ grinding/ screening/ sifting/ homogenising/ emulsifying/ stirring machines.
  • Air humidifiers or dehumidifiers; machines for squeezing radioactive waste; suction machine; mud scraper; sand suction machine; trash compactor; vacuum extruder for making hollow brick with gangue (waste from mineral ores) and fly ash. Very broadly, machines and appliances designed for a wide range of areas of environmental management, including waste, waste water, drinking water production and soil remediation.
  • AC generators (alternator), of an output exceeding 750 kva to be used with turbines and generators in combination to produce electricity from renewable energy fuels.
  • Wind-powered electric generating equipment.
  • Amorphous transformers.
  • Biogas generator sets.
  • Small hydro, ocean, geothermal and biomass gas turbine generating sets.
  • Combined heat and power systems produce usable power (usually electricity) and heat at the same time.
  • Electricity generation from renewable resources.
  • Parts for electrical transformers, static converters and inductors. Used to convert dc current from renewable energy generating sets into conventional ac electricity.
  • Industrial or laboratory electric furnaces and ovens (including those functioning by induction or dielectric loss); other industrial or laboratory equipment for the heat treatment of materials by induction or dielectric loss: resistance heated furnaces and ovens.
  • Photosensitive semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels; light emitting diodes.
  • Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels; light emitting diodes; mounted piezo-electric crystals: photosensitive semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels; light emitting diodes.
  • Water disinfection.
  • Surveying, hydrographic, oceanographic, hydrological, meteorological or geophysical instruments and appliances, excluding compasses.
  • Instruments for measuring or checking the flow, level, pressure or other variables of liquids or gases.
  • Air quality monitoring; automated air quality monitoring.
  • Instruments and apparatus for measuring or checking pressure.
  • Gas or smoke analysis apparatus.
  • Chromatographs and electrophoresis instruments.
  • Spectrometers, spectrophotometers and spectrographs using optical radiations (ultraviolet, visible, infrared).
  • DNA sequencers, polymerase chain reaction (pcr) systems.
  • Instruments and apparatus for physical or chemical analysis.
  • Other instruments, appliances and machines.
  • Automatic regulating or controlling instruments.

For detailed definitions, including Harmonized System tariff codes and inclusions/exclusions, see http://www.apec.org/Meeting-Papers/Leaders-Declarations/2012/2012_aelm/2012_aelm_annexC.aspx

A press statement and the initial agreement among the fourteen is available at http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2014/January/Froman-ministers-launch-new-talks-toward-increased-trade-environmental-goods

 

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