Consultations on a Plurilateral Environmental Goods Agreement

The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadians on the negotiation of a plurilateral environmental goods agreement among a group of World Trade Organization (WTO) Members. The current participants in this initiative are Canada, Australia, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, and the United States. Additional WTO Members could potentially join the negotiations, and the resulting agreement would also be open to participation by other WTO Members.

Background

In 2001, as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Ministerial Declaration, WTO Members agreed to engage in negotiations on “the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services”. In the context of these negotiations, Canada became part of a group of like-minded Members, the “Friends of the Environmental Goods”. This group advocated for focusing negotiations on a list of 153 environmental products to fulfill the mandate of the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration. Opposition to this list approach was voiced by some other WTO Members, who suggested diverging proposals to form the basis of negotiations. Due to these differing perspectives, an impasse was reached and the Doha negotiations on environmental goods have stalled. However, ongoing discussions in Geneva revealed that a significant number of WTO Members are willing to pursue an ambitious agreement on environmental goods amongst themselves, as permitted under WTO rules. These discussions gained momentum during fall 2013 and negotiations are expected to start in 2014.

This new WTO plurilateral initiative seeks to build on the 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) List of environmental goods in order to liberalise trade on an expanded list of products and broaden participation to WTO Members representing a “critical mass” of global trade in the products. Unlike the APEC commitment, an eventual WTO agreement would be legally binding, and enforceable through the WTO dispute settlement procedures. The tariff reductions agreed to as part of a plurilateral environmental goods agreement would be made on a Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) basis. This means that the tariff concessions resulting from this initiative would benefit all WTO Members.

Environmental goods are an important and growing part of Canada’s economy and include goods for air pollution control, cleaner and resource efficient technologies and products, environmentally preferable products based on end use and disposal characteristics, heat and energy management products, environmental monitoring products, analysis and assessment equipment, goods for natural risk management and natural resources protection, noise and vibration abatement products, renewable energy plants, management of solid and hazardous waste and recycling systems, goods for clean up or remediation of soil and water, and products for waste water management and potable water treatment.

Submissions by interested parties

In preparation for these negotiations, the Government of Canada is seeking to identify its interests and priorities in terms of product coverage, destination markets, as well as any concerns with non-tariff measures, and other sensitivities that may exist. To inform this process, the Government is embarking on a public consultation process to allow all interested stakeholders an early opportunity to provide input on a potential plurilateral environmental goods agreement. If you wish to contribute to this process, we invite interested parties to provide responses to the following five questions:

  • 1. Are products of interest adequately represented on the list of environmental goods prepared for this consultation process (see link to PDF document below)? If not, or if you are uncertain, please provide us, in as much detail as possible, with information on your products of interest, including the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS 2012) numbers for each product (descriptions can be found on the Canada Border Services Agency website).
  • 2. Please indicate your level of export priority for products of interest included in the list of environmental goods, using the following codes:
    • VH: Very high priority
    • H: High priority
    • M: Medium priority
    • L: Low priority

    Please provide context and details for the goods of interest.

    Fill out the document and attach to the email below when submitting your input and comments:
    Canada's Preliminary List of Environmental Goods for Consultations - PDFFootnote * - 317 KB)

  • 3. Do you have concerns about Canada reducing or eliminating tariffs on any of the identified goods? If so, please indicate which specific goods (including the HS code) are sensitive, along with context and details of the sensitivity.
  • 4. Are you actively exporting to, or do you have intentions to export to, any destination countries that are not currently participants to these environmental goods tariff negotiations (this question relates to products or technologies that require or are connected to the use of an environmental good)?
  • 5. Aside from merchandise tariffs, are you experiencing or do you anticipate other (non-tariff) barriers that may impede access for your products into destination markets?  If so, please describe them in as much detail as possible for each destination country. This will enable the Government of Canada to better assist you in doing business internationally.

Although the deadline for receiving input and comments was July 11, 2014, we are still accepting submissions. Please be advised that any information received as a result of this consultation will be considered as public information, unless explicitly designated as private. Submissions should include the contributor’s name and address and, if applicable, his/her organization, institution or business.

Additional Information

For more information on the APEC List of environmental goods, please consult the APEC website.

Additional information on Canada’s relationship with the countries participating to this initiative can be found on the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service website.

For more information on the WTO and WTO Members, please consult the WTO website.

Contact Points

Questions and contributions may be sent by e-mail or mail to:

WTO Environmental Goods Negotiations Consultations
Government Procurement, Trade and Environment Division (TPZ)
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario   K1A 0G2
Email: ENVconsultations@international.gc.ca

Questions or comments regarding the Canadian tariff may also be sent by e-mail or mail to:

WTO Environmental Goods Negotiations Consultations
International Trade Policy Division
Department of Finance
140 O’Connor Street, East Tower, 14th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario   K1A 0G5
Email: Tariff-Tarif@fin.gc.ca

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