Global bloc aims for free trade on environmental goods

The world's biggest trading powers including Canada committed on Friday to achieving global free trade in environmental goods, everything from solar panels to wind turbines and water recycling technology.

Canada joins group calling for end of tariffs on wind, solar, water technology

Canada is part of a global trade block calling for free trade in environmental products. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

The world's biggest trading powers including Canada committed on Friday to achieving global free trade in environmental goods, everything from solar panels to wind turbines and water recycling technology.

No timeline was given for the deal, which is contingent on a critical mass of members from the World Trade Organization agreeing to participate.

A joint statement by the United States, EU, China, Japan, Canada and other countries out of Davos, where the World Economic Forum is meeting outlined the intention to achieve free trade in environmental goods.

"We announce our commitment to achieve global free trade in environmental goods and pledge to work together, and with other WTO members similarly committed to liberalization, to begin preparing for negotiations in order to advance this shared goal," the statement said.

The group wants to “eliminate tariffs for goods we all need to protect our environment and address climate change.”

It intends to build on an APEC agreement to reduce tariffs by 2015 on an agreed list of environmental goods.

Last month, the WTO reached its first trade reform agreement at talks in Bali, after a decade of deadlock on free trade.

The WTO's requirement for unanimity on trade deals has slowed progress, but this strategy appears set to get around that problem as 86 per cent of the world’s manufacturers of green goods and technology are already represented under the agreement.

The initiative is in line with new WTO chief Roberto Azevedo's drive to advance world trade negotiations by tackling the most promising areas for agreement first.

The WTO estimates that the global market in environmental goods, technologies and services at about $1.4 trillion.

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