Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

ENVIRONMENT: NEGOTIATIONS

Eliminating trade barriers on environmental goods and services

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The aim is to create “win win win” situations for trade, the environment and development. These negotiations deal with the reduction or elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services — for example catalytic converters, air filters or consultancy services on wastewater management.

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The 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration instructs members to negotiate on the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers on environmental goods and services. It has been emphasized that these negotiations should aim at achieving sustainable development by creating a triple win situation for trade, the environment and development.

 

Win-win-win

  • First, the negotiations can facilitate trade through the reduction or elimination of tariff and non tariff barriers (NTBs). Domestic purchasers, including business and governments at all levels, will be able to acquire environmental technologies at lower costs. In addition, liberalizing trade in environmental goods will encourage the use of environmental technologies, which can in turn stimulate innovation and technology transfer.

  • The negotiations can also benefit the environment by improving countries’ ability to obtain high quality environmental goods. This can directly improve the quality of life for citizens in all countries by providing a cleaner environment and better access to safe water, sanitation or clean energy. In addition, the use of environmental goods can reduce harmful side-effects of various activities (what economists call “negative externalities”) that damage the environment and are hazardous to human health and can help make the use of energy significantly more efficient.

  • Finally, the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services can be beneficial for development by assisting developing countries in obtaining the tools needed to address key environmental priorities as part of their on going development strategies.

 

Goods and services

Trade in environmental services is closely linked with trade in goods, since the provision of those services often relies on the use of related goods.

For instance, wastewater management includes the removal, treatment and disposal of household, commercial and industrial sewage and other waste water. These services require in most cases the use of goods, such as waste pipes, sewers and drains, cesspools or septic tanks, etc.

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