Environmental Goods Agreement

Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) in the United States

The United States has been a leading advocate for liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services, such as wind turbines, water treatment filters, and solar water heaters. By cutting tariffs on environmental goods, we can improve access to the technologies that the United States and other countries need to protect our environment, thus lowering the costs of environmental protection, while unlocking opportunity for U.S. exporters and spurring innovation in green technologies.

Global trade in environmental goods is estimated at nearly $1 trillion annually, and growing fast. The United States exported $106 billion of environmental goods in 2013, and U.S. exports of environmental goods have been growing at an annual rate of eight percent since 2009. U.S. tariffs on environmental goods are already low; however, other countries charge tariffs as high as 35 percent on these goods. By eliminating tariffs, we can help level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers and workers – supporting good green jobs.

President Obama called for global free trade in environmental goods in his Climate Action Plan, and USTR is working with the world’s major traders of environmental goods to negotiate an agreement in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to eliminate tariffs on these products.

Launch of Negotiations for Environmental Goods Agreement

The United States and 13 other WTO Members, representing 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, launched negotiations on the new Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in July 2014.

Some Members currently apply tariffs as high as 35 percent on global trade in environmental goods. Tariffs add unnecessary costs to the green technologies and solutions we need to protect the environment. By taking action to eliminate those barriers, the EGA can make a major contribution to green growth and sustainable development. It will also increase market access for U.S. manufacturers and workers – supporting more green jobs.

The Environmental Goods Agreement is the primary trade aspect of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced at Georgetown University in June, 2013.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced U.S. plans to prepare for the initiative earlier this year, and today’s launch marks an important step forward in our efforts to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods, such as wind turbines, water treatment filters, and solar water heaters. The United States is joined in the Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations by Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chinese Taipei.

On March 21 2014, Ambassador Froman notified Congress of the Administration’s intent to enter into negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement, which aims to eliminate tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods. Since then, USTR has engaged in broad consultations on the objectives and priorities for the Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations, including by soliciting written comments, holding a public hearing on June 5, and meeting with Congress, businesses, environmental groups, and labor unions. We will continue to consult with these and other stakeholders as the negotiations progress in order to ensure that the Environmental Goods Agreement is commercially meaningful and environmentally credible, and delivers concrete benefits for the United States.

Environmental Technologies

While the Environmental Goods Agreement’s product coverage is still under negotiation, the United States is seeking inclusion of a broad set of environmental technologies, including those related to:

  • Renewable and Clean Energy Generation: For example, solar panels, and gas and wind turbines. The global market for renewable and clean energy technologies has been growing rapidly in recent years, with world trade in this sector tripling from 2002-2012. Tariffs on these products can be as high as 35%.
  • Air Pollution Control: For example, soot removers and carbon dioxide scrubbers. Some WTO members apply tariffs as high as 20% on these technologies, which play an essential role in reducing harmful emissions and improving public health.
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment: For example, ultraviolet disinfection and desalination equipment. The United States is a leading producer of water and wastewater treatment technologies, with exports growing at an average rate of 10% annually. Tariffs on these products can be as high as 21%.
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste Treatment: For example, recycling equipment and composting systems. Access to technologies that manage waste safely and sustainably create economic opportunity while helping to maintain a healthy environment. Tariffs on these products can be as high as 20%.
  • Environmental Monitoring and Analysis: For example, air and water quality monitors. Such equipment is essential to companies and municipalities in meeting environmental performance standards, as well as measuring the energy and water consumption of households and organizations. Tariffs on these products can be as high as 20%.

The WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) Negotiations

In June 2016, Trade Ministers and senior officials from seven Environmental Goods Agreement members – Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and the United States – met in Paris to discuss progress in the negotiations and to chart a path toward successful conclusion later this year. Learn about the Environmental Goods Agreements of the G20 countries.







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