Politicians, senior government officials, industry executives and non-government representatives supporting the Coalition for Green Trade met in September at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, to commend the World Trade Organisation's environmental goods agreement (EGA) negotiations, which concerns tariffs on environmental technologies.

“By removing barriers to global trade in environmental goods, we can promote technologies that allow better access to safe water, sanitation and clean energy,” said US trade representative Michael Froman at the event. “We can encourage countries to adopt strategies for sustainable development and help drive innovation that could lead to even cleaner technologies.”

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He stressed how the EGA will help drive more Made-in-America exports, allowing more American workers and business to make environmental goods in the US and sell them abroad.

EGA is a major new initiative to eliminate barriers to trade in green technologies. It was launched on July 7 in Geneva by the US and 13 other World Trade Organisation members (Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the EU, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan) who represent 86% of global trade in this sector.

The Coalition for Green Trade is composed of a broad range of associations and companies doing business in the US who seek to remove barriers to global trade in environmental technology. Global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $1000bn annually, and some World Trade Organisation members currently apply tariffs as high as 35% on these products. 

 “Companies such as Met One in Oregon [which manufactures instruments that monitor air quality] are at the forefront of innovation, but if it is going to compete and win new opportunities overseas, it is going to need a level playing field,” said Senate finance committee chairman senator Tom Wyden from Oregon.

Representatives from several companies also commented on the benefits of EGA. Tim Regan, senior vice-president of glass and ceramics manufacturer Corning, discussed his company's recently announced $250m factory in New York state to manufacture emissions control systems that will be largely exported. “We face serious tariffs,” he added. “If those tariffs are eliminated, that will make us much more competitive.”