Australia joins push for free trade in environmental goods

Media release

25 January 2014

The Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb MP, has welcomed a commitment by a group of WTO members to begin preparing for negotiations on the elimination of tariffs on environmental goods.

Mr Robb said Australia was very pleased to be a part of this new initiative which was launched overnight in Davos, Switzerland, as part of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

"Prime Minister Tony Abbott highlighted just yesterday the Australian Government's strong commitment to liberalising trade during his address to the WEF and this is another step on that journey," Mr Robb said.

The initiative brings together WTO Members which account for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods. It will involve many of the world's largest economies, including China, the European Union, Japan, Korea and the United States. The negotiations will be open to any other countries sharing the ambition to promote free trade in environmental products.

"Working to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods provides a concrete and tangible way to really help ensure we do the right thing for the environment and the planet," Mr Robb said.

"It will also be a good thing for Australian businesses and innovators."

The negotiations will build on the 2012 APEC commitment to reduce tariffs on 54 environmental goods. They will be seeking to cover a broad range of additional products and to respond to changing technologies in one of the most dynamic sectors of the international market.

Mr Robb said the initiative was a strong example of how a regional agreement in APEC can provide the basis for multilateral action in the WTO.

The foundation participants are Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei and the United States.

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