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Liberalising Trade in 'Environmental Goods': Some Practical Considerations

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  • Ronald Steenblik

Abstract

This chapter explores some practical issues that have arisen in the WTO negotiations on environmental goods and services, especially issues pertaining to liberalising trade in environmental goods. Since environmental goods are not covered by a single chapter of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) — the international basis for codifying trade and tariffs — an agreement on environmental goods must be defined by reference to an agreed list. In such a case, when the most detailed (6-digit) product level is insufficiently specific, it becomes necessary to agree to create common commodity descriptions at the 8- or 10-digit level in national tariff schedules. Another important concern is the so-called “dual use” problem: many goods with environmental uses also can be used for nonenvironmental purposes. Possible solutions to these problems are explored, drawing on past experience in negotiating and implementing sectoral liberalisation agreements. The chapter also discusses issues relating to separate tariff lines for whole plants and to goods distinguished by their superior environmental performance in use. Finally, it considers some procedural and institutional issues that will have to be addressed before an agreement is concluded, notably whether to allow for the periodic addition of new goods to the agreement, and how to deal with the problem of changes over time in the relative environmental performance of competing goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald Steenblik, 2005. "Liberalising Trade in 'Environmental Goods': Some Practical Considerations," OECD Trade and Environment Working Papers 2005/5, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:traaaa:2005/5-en
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888676434604
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    Cited by:

    1. Jaime de Melo & Mariana Vijil, 2014. "Barriers to Trade in Environmental Goods and Environmental Services: How Important Are They? How Much Progress at Reducing Them?," Working Papers 2014.36, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Jaime DE MELO & Mariana VIJIL, 2014. "The Critical Mass Approach to Achieve a Deal on Green Goods and Services: What is on the Table? How Much to Expect?," Working Papers P107, FERDI.
    3. Dieter Hesse, 2007. "Environmental Policy and Competitiveness in a Globalizing World: Challenges for Low-Income Countries in the UNECE Region," ECE Discussion Papers Series 2007_6, UNECE.
    4. Kaliappa Kalirajan & Venkatachalam Anbumozhi & Kanhaiya Singh, 2010. "Measuring the Environmental Impacts of Changing Trade Patterns on the Poor," Working Papers id:2945, eSocialSciences.
    5. Solveig Delabroye, 2014. "The Eco-Industry and Trade Agreements," CIRANO Working Papers 2014s-45, CIRANO.
    6. Sawhney, Aparna & Kahn, Matthew E., 2012. "Understanding cross-national trends in high-tech renewable power equipment exports to the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 308-318.

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