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APEC Closes Historic Trade Deal on Environmental Goods

By Phillip Kurata | Staff Writer | 12 September 2012
Aerial view of Vladivostok, Russia (Courtesy of Atlantis Condo)

Vladivostok, Russia, site of the 2012 APEC summit

Washington — The 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum have agreed to historic tariffs cuts on environmental products.

“This marks the first time that trade negotiations have produced such a list of environmental goods for tariff cuts,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement September 12.

At the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia, September 8–9, the 21 members announced that they will cut tariffs to 5 percent or less on 54 environmental goods by 2015.

“This historic outcome will make a significant contribution to the Obama administration’s goals to increase exports and jobs, as well as its strong commitment to promoting green growth and sustainable development,” the Trade Representative’s office added.

The APEC environmental goods list consists of five categories of products:

• Renewable and clean-energy technologies, such as solar panels and gas and wind turbines. Tariffs in the region currently run as high as 35 percent on such products.

• Waste-water treatment technologies, such as filters and ultraviolent disinfection equipment, on which tariffs currently are as high as 21 percent.

• Air pollution control technologies, such as soot removers and catalytic converters, on which tariffs are as high as 20 percent.

• Solid and hazardous waste treatment technologies, such as waste incinerators and crushing and sorting machinery, on which tariffs are as high as 20 percent

• Environmental monitoring and assessment equipment, such as air and water quality monitors and water delivery systems, on which tariffs run as high as 20 percent.

APEC’s groundbreaking agreement will add momentum to the U.S. drive to lower trade barriers on environmental goods in negotiations at the World Trade Organization, according to the Trade Representative’s office.

The APEC economies make up 60 percent of world exports of environmental products. Reducing tariffs on environmental goods will produce environmental benefits and improve the quality of life of people across the Asia-Pacific region, the Trade Representative’s office said.

The environmental goods agreement was just one of the trade-opening measures that occurred at Vladivostok. The APEC participants also dealt with information technology, supply chain improvements, “next generation” trade and investment issues, combating illegal trade in wildlife, improving food security, and ways to foster strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the future.

Since the APEC forum was founded in 1989, average tariffs in the Asia-Pacific region have fallen from 16 percent to 5 percent on a value of $2.3 trillion of goods and services between the United States and the Asia-Pacific economies, according to the Trade Representative’s office.