WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA)
On January 24, 2014, Canada announced that it would join a number of other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, including China, the European Union, Japan and the United States, in negotiations toward a new WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). These negotiations were officially launched on July 8, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. This initiative is open to all WTO Members to join.
Since the agreement by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders in September 2012 to reduce applied tariffs on a list of 54 environmental goods by the end of 2015, interest has been building among APEC and non-APEC economies in Geneva to find a way to re-engage in environmental goods tariff negotiations at the WTO.
Canada is a leader in the global sustainable technologies market, a burgeoning market that is expected to more than double its 2012 estimated value by 2022, growing from $1.1 trillion to some $2.5 trillion. The conclusion of an ambitious agreement could enhance access to a broad range of environmental goods, such as products related to the production of renewable energy, air-handling equipment, water treatment technologies, waste management or recycling equipment, and environmental and atmospheric monitoring instruments.
More open trade will create new markets for Canadian manufacturers, provide incentives for Canadian businesses to develop new products to protect the environment, and increase the availability and lower the cost of environmental goods for Canadians. As a result, an ambitious agreement will significantly facilitate the achievement of the green growth and sustainable development objectives of WTO Members by creating a win-win situation for trade and the environment.
The 18 EGA participants (representing 46 WTO members) are Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong (China), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Türkiye and the United States.
Updates on Negotiations
Following the successful launch of the EGA negotiations on July 8, 2014, the first round of negotiations took place in Geneva on July 9-10, 2014. During that round, participants held productive discussions on the structure of the negotiations, including ways to build on the APEC list and to ensure the environmental credibility of product nominations. It was agreed that each of the initial rounds of negotiations will focus on specific categories of environmental goods, which means that discussions will be oriented around products that address particular environmental issues or challenges. Participants also considered technical issues relating to product nominations.
In line with the inclusive nature of the EGA negotiations, participants also discussed how best to welcome the entry of new like-minded members into the discussions.
The second round of the EGA negotiations took place in Geneva from September 22-26, 2014. In line with the agreed approach to organise discussions around categories of environmental goods, this round focused on products for air pollution control and solid and hazardous waste management. During the round, Canada presented its product nominations in these two categories.
The third round of the EGA negotiations took place on December 1-5, 2014, and focused on products for wastewater management and water treatment, environmental remediation and clean-up, and noise and vibration abatement. Participants, including Canada, had the opportunity to present their product nominations in these three categories as well as to learn from independent experts in these fields.
The fourth round of negotiations took place from January 26-30, 2015, and featured discussions on products for cleaner and renewable energy and energy efficiency nominated by Canada and other EGA participants. In addition, independent experts gave presentations on economic trends in the energy sector as well as the various technologies for reducing the carbon intensiveness of global energy production. The purpose of these presentations was to inform the EGA negotiations by highlighting specific environmental challenges and identifying how certain technologies can be employed to address such challenges. The fourth round was also the first one to include participation from Israel, who formally joined the EGA negotiations in January 2015.
The fifth round of negotiations was held in Geneva from March 16-20, 2015. This round, which focused on products for environmental monitoring, analysis and assessment, environmentally-preferable products, and resource efficiency, was the last opportunity during the initial rounds for participants to table product nominations. Canada presented its product nominations in the three categories under discussion and tabled its final list of product nominations, including updates to its past nominations. This round also saw the addition of two new participants, Türkiye and Iceland, bringing to seventeen the total number of WTO Members involved in the negotiation.
The sixth round of negotiations was held on May 4-8, 2015. Over the five days, participants reviewed the substantive list of product nominations that was developed throughout the first five rounds of negotiations, and began to indicate their support on their environmental goods of interest. Participants also held constructive technical discussions on the environmental credibility of the various nominations as well as the feasibility of their customs implementation.
The seventh round of negotiations took place in Geneva from June 15-22, 2015. Negotiators continued their discussions of the list of roughly 650 product groups – defined as subheadings under the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (that is, the Harmonized System, or HS, for short) – that were nominated during the first five rounds. Participants' views are increasingly converging in some product areas, while other areas still require further consideration. As a general principle, participants are working to ensure that the final EGA list is environmentally credible, easy to implement by customs officials, and meaningful for both consumers and producers of these goods.
The eighth round of negotiations took place in Geneva from July 27-31, 2015. In anticipation of the development of a more focussed list of broadly supported products, negotiators conducted a final detailed review of all product nominations and intensified their efforts to identify products of mutual interest. Initial discussions on a draft text for the EGA also occurred during this round.
The ninth round of negotiations took place in Geneva from September 16-22, 2015. Efforts continued on identifying support for priority products included in a more focussed list of goods, which was developed between Rounds 8 and 9 and covers roughly 450 subheadings of the Harmonized System. The EGA draft text was also further discussed during the round.
The 10th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from October 29 to November 4, 2015. Participants discussed their positions on the products that are still under consideration for inclusion in the EGA list of goods and also examined ways to address sensitivities. Time during the round was also allocated for experts to engage in technical work related to the specific language used to describe some of the nominated goods.
It was agreed that a more focussed list of products will be distributed to the negotiating parties in advance of the next round of negotiations.
The 11th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from November 30 to December 4, 2015. Negotiators continued discussions on a more focussed list of environmental goods, which had been distributed to the negotiating parties in November 2015. Participants also explored different ways to find consensus on a final list of goods for the EGA. In addition, customs experts and negotiators undertook additional technical work to help ensure that products included in a potential EGA are easily identifiable by customs officers at the border. As no consensus on the final list of environmental goods was reached by the end of the round, participants agreed to reconvene in 2016 to continue negotiations. Following the round, a revised list of environmental goods was distributed to the negotiating parties, reflecting technical work done during the round and the removal of a small number of goods that are sensitive for some participants.
Following Round 11, on December 14, 2015, on the margins of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, the Chair of the EGA negotiations noted that considerable progress has been achieved to date and that EGA members have agreed to re-engage early in 2016 to continue towards a positive conclusion.
The 12th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from March 2-4, 2016. Participants developed a critical path forward for 2016 and discussed proposals on modalities for implementation. Customs officials, technical experts and negotiators also continued to work on questions regarding the descriptions of specific products in the revised list of environmental goods.
The 13th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from April 18-22, 2016. Participants engaged in a transparency exercise that included the exchange of lists of goods that they consider acceptable in the context of a final agreement. Throughout the week, negotiators met in various configurations to try to find common ground on as many environmental good nominations as possible. Other issues, such as modalities for implementation, were also discussed. Participants agreed to convene the next round in late June 2016.
Prior to the round, the trade ministers of 7 EGA participants (Canada as well as Australia, the European Union, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States) met in Paris on June 2, 2016 to discuss progress in the negotiations. They committed to work together with the aim of concluding an ambitious EGA with all participants ahead of the G20 Leader’s Summit in September 2016.
The 14th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from June 20-24, 2016. Participants met bilaterally as well as in small groups and intensified their negotiating efforts toward agreeing on a final list of environmental goods. Encouraging progress was made during the week and participants agreed to convene the next round on July 25-29.
On July 10, 2016, trade ministers and senior officials from 10 EGA participants (Canada as well as Australia, China, the European Union, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Türkiye, and the United States) met on the margins of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Shanghai, China. As part of the G20 Trade Ministers’ Statement, it was agreed that EGA participants should achieve a “landing zone” by the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 4-5, 2016 and aim to conclude negotiations by the end of 2016. This Statement also provided guidance for EGA negotiators regarding next steps in the negotiations, including on objectives for round 15.
Round 15 of negotiations took place in Geneva from July 24-29, 2016. In line with the G20 Trade Ministers’ Statement, participants worked intensively to develop a “landing zone” for the EGA. After individual discussions with all EGA participants, the Chair of the EGA negotiations circulated a more focused list of products which is expected to provide a basis for further discussions towards the conclusion of the negotiations by the end of 2016. The round also featured discussions on the draft text for the EGA. Participants agreed to hold the next round of negotiations in mid-September.
At the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 4-5, 2016 in Hangzhou, China, Leaders from the EGA participants welcomed the progress achieved in the negotiations and reaffirmed the objective to conclude an ambitious, future-oriented EGA by the end of 2016, after finding effective ways to address the core concerns of participants.
The 16th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from September 19-23, 2016. Building on the G20 Leaders’ communique and the more focused list of products issued by the Chair of the EGA at round 15, participants worked toward narrowing differences on the list of environmental goods and held discussions on the draft text of the EGA. Participants agreed to hold the next round of negotiations on October 16-20, 2016.
The 17th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from October 16-20, 2016. Participants focussed discussions on the most sensitive products in an effort to achieve successful conclusion by the end of 2016. These discussions were held in small groups that included key proponents and opponents of each product. Participants agreed to intensify intersessional work and to hold the next round of negotiations from November 26 to December 2, 2016.
Following the round, trade ministers and senior officials from 11 EGA participants (Canada as well as Australia, China, EU, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States) met on the margins of the informal WTO Mini-Ministerial Meeting in Oslo, Norway on October 22, 2016. They took stock of the progress that has been made in the negotiations and reaffirmed the goal of delivering an ambitious EGA by the end of 2016. They also instructed negotiators to resolve as many outstanding issues as possible prior to a concluding meeting.
The 18th round of negotiations took place in Geneva from November 26 to December 2, 2016. Participants held discussions on product coverage and the EGA text in various configurations. Following a plenary review of the most sensitive products, the Chair of the EGA negotiations recast the landing zone list by dividing goods into two categories: those products having a solid chance of gaining wide agreement and those products for which the most significant differences remain.
Immediately after the round, trade ministers and senior officials from the 18 EGA participants met in Geneva on December 3-4 to discuss the EGA negotiations. Constructive talks were held and progress was made, but participants were not in a position to close the existing gaps. Ministers and senior officials acknowledged that further work is necessary and reiterated their shared commitment to concluding the EGA.
- Additional Technical Consultation on the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement Negotiations
- Consultations on a Plurilateral Environmental Goods Agreement
Environmental Assessment for the EGA
- Initial Environmental Assessment of the Environmental Goods Agreement Negotiations
- ARCHIVED - Notice of Intent to Conduct an Environmental Assessment of the Environmental Goods Agreement
- Joint Statement Regarding Trade in Environmental Goods
- Joint Statement Regarding the Launch of the Environmental Goods Agreement Negotiations
- The Director General of the WTO welcomes the statement of the Chair of the Environmental Goods Agreement
- Joint Statement on the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement Negotiations
- WTO press release on the launch of the negotiations (including an audio recording of the press conference)
- Doha Development Agenda: Eliminating trade barriers on environmental goods and services
- 2012 APEC Leaders’ Declaration – APEC List of Environmental Goods (Annex C)
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