WTO Committee on Trade and Environment
23 October 2014
Thank you Mr Chair.
This item has been placed on the agenda by Australia, because the chair of the Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations is my colleague from the Australian mission, Andrew Martin. Unfortunately, Andrew was unable to attend today’s CTE meeting, but he prepared this statement in advance, in consultation with all the participants in the negotiations. Andrew has asked that I read it today on his behalf.
Mr Chair, at the last CTE meeting on 30 June, a group of 14 WTO members provided an update about their intention to work towards an official launch of negotiations towards their shared goal of achieving global free trade in environmental goods.
I am pleased to advise that, on 8 July this year, negotiations towards an Environmental Goods Agreement – otherwise known as the EGA – were formally launched here at the WTO by heads of delegation from the 14 Members of the group. I know many CTE Members attended that 8 July launch, as well as the informal side-events organised by ICTSD, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, and members of the business community. There is a sense of excitement building about the prospects for these negotiations and the positive benefits they could potentially bring.
Since the launch of negotiations on 8 July, the group has held two negotiating rounds. The first round of negotiations, from 9-10 July, focused on setting the framework for the negotiations. At the second round, from 22-26 September, the group discussed a possible list of product categories of environmental goods, as well as more detailed discussions on two specific categories, namely air pollution control and solid and hazardous waste management. This included an initial information exchange on the types of products that could be included under these two categories. The group also explored ways to build on the APEC list and to ensure the environmental credibility of product nominations. That work will continue during the next meeting, which is scheduled to be held in early December.
As we have stated previously, the negotiations towards an Environmental Goods Agreement are open to other WTO Members similarly committed to liberalization who are interested in joining our ambitious efforts. We expect one new participant to join the negotiations in the next few months, while many others have indicated a genuine interest in also coming on board. Current members of the group are readily available to consult with anyone interested in the negotiations, as is the chair of our negotiating group.
We will provide further updates as the negotiations move forward.