The European Union, United States, China and a number of countries have agreed to work towards global free trade in environmental goods.
Initially, the group will use the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to negotiate free trade based on the APEC List of 54 Environmental Goods.
This is a list of 54 environmental product categories put together by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) body with the aim of enabling trade and investment in these goods.
It includes waste processing equipment and incineration technologies.
But the countries also intend to investigate whether other environmental products can be added to this list.
In a joint statement, the countries said: “We are convinced that one of the most concrete, immediate contributions that the WTO and its members can make to protect our planet is to seek agreement to eliminate tariffs for goods that we all need to protect our environment and address climate change.
“We anticipate a structure for an environmental goods agreement that would reinforce the rules-based multilateral trading system and benefit all WTO members, including by involving all major traders and applying the principle of ‘most favoured nation’. Such an agreement would take effect once a critical mass of WTO members participates.
“Our work will build upon APEC leaders’ commitment to reduce tariffs on the APEC List of 54 Environmental Goods. APEC has given us a good start, and we are committed to exploring a broad range of additional products, in the context of a future orientated agreement able to address other issues in the sector and to respond to changes in technologies in the years to come, that can also directly and positively contribute to green growth and sustainable development.”
Countries signed up to the joint announcement include Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei and the United States.