The “Green Goods” Trade: Ongoing Negotiations On The Environmental Goods Agreement

By Satoko Sawada, GIELR Online Staff Editor

On July 8, 2014, fourteen members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) including China, the European Union (EU) and the United States officially launched a negotiation to conclude the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) to eliminate tariffs on a variety of environmental goods and technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels. Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the WTO, welcomed this launch and stated that “we remain conscious of the positive role that trade can play in environmental protection. The topic of environmental protection is of utmost importance in the WTO.”
According to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), global trade in environmental goods is estimated at nearly $1 trillion a year, and the number is expected to increase, in the effort to fight climate change. The fourteen WTO members participating in the EGA negotiations account for 86% of global trade in environmental goods. Therefore, the elimination of tariffs is expected to increase the trade and usage of environmental goods, potentially contributing to environmental protection and sustainable development (the preamble of the WTO Agreement refers to protection and preservation of environment as well as sustainable development).

* Published in collaboration with the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (GIELR). To read more, check out GIELR's blog here.