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APEC Works To Reduce Tariffs On Environmental Goods

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

22 January 2014

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries are working to reduce import tariffs to 5 percent or less on a list of environmental goods by 2015, and will also explore opportunities for building on this initiative within the World Trade Organization.

During an interview, Dr. Phyllis Genther Yoshida, the leader of the APEC Energy Working Group, as well as the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy, explained the list's significance and how it fits with APEC's broader work to improve energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Yoshida said: "APEC has really taken the lead on environmental goods and services. The idea really is to get the tariffs on certain products that are environmentally friendly and support the use of clean energy so that they're easily spread and then deployed throughout the region – easily sold, easily traded."

At present, it was confirmed, there is a list of 54 goods, agreed by all the APEC members in 2012, but that could grow as more products that promote energy efficiency, such as solar panels, are identified.

When the APEC agreement goes into effect in 2015, the highest tariff that will be applied to these goods in the APEC region will be 5 percent, but many economies are expected to opt to maintain tariffs that are lower, and that, it is hoped, should encourage the deployment of these technologies throughout the region.

"Economies will have to take a hard look at their tariff schedules to determine how they wish to implement the tariff cuts," she continued. "Some economies may choose to create new tariff lines, some may choose to reduce tariffs on existing lines and some economies are already in compliance with the commitment. A portion of 2014 will be dedicated to working together to ensure all economies implement the agreement in a transparent manner."

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