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WTO 'green goods' negotiations collapse

December 4, 2016

Talks on reduced tariffs for environmentally friendly goods have collapsed in Geneva. Officials claimed that the submission of late demands made by China had derailed the negotiations.

China Panzhihua Arbeiter installiert Solarpanele
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Imaginechina/Gao Yihan

Representatives from the EU and 16 other World Trade Organization (WTO) members had been set to discuss which "green goods" should qualify for lower import tariffs as part of the Environmental Goods Agreement.

The list of some 300 products under discussion - which included LED light bulbs, air quality monitors and wind turbines - had been compiled by the European Union and the United States.

LED Glühbirne Halogen
Some 300 "green goods" were under considerationImage: DW/G. Rueter

The talks on Sunday collapsed, however, after China unexpectedly submitted its own list of goods for consideration. According to EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmström, who chaired the meeting, this move derailed negotiations.

"This made it impossible to find an agreement. We were too far away from each other," Malmström said.

Michael Punke, US Ambassador to the WTO, said: "The United States worked hard to find a creative path to a successful EGA agreement. Unfortunately not all participants were ready to contribute to success."

Boosting 'green goods'

Global trade in environmental goods is estimated to be worth $1 trillion (938 billion euros) annually. By creating a new environmental trade deal, the WTO members hoped to "boost global trade in green goods and services."

Discussions on the Environmental Goods Agreement began after the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Concerns had already been raised about the future of the agreement in the wake of Donald Trump's US election victory

Despite the latest setback, Malmström insisted that all parties remained committed to the agreement.

"We will reinforce our efforts next year," she told reporters.

rls/rc (AP, Reuters)