Disappointed with the inability to reach agreement on the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services (EGS) within the context of the WTO (World Trade Organization) Doha Round of trade negotiations, the US is pursuing the matter along bilateral lines. United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Ron Kirk highlighted that discussions regarding the elimination of barriers to trade in EGS have already taken place with officials from Australia, Canada, and the European Union (EU) among a larger group of developed countries frustrated at the fact that a multilateral agreement to liberalize EGS trade is still nowhere in sight.
Advocates of EGS liberalization hold that cementing a critical mass of bilateral/regional agreements on EGS trade now will help later multilateral accords, as happened in the case of WTO´s Information Technology Agreement (ITA).
Reports on the potential impact to US industry and consumers of a possible EGS Free Trade Agreement are being prepared by the US International Trade Commission and are expected to be delivered in October 2010. A further report on the possible impact of such an agreement on US exports of clean technologies is to be ready by February 2011.
Since EGS trade is a US$700-billon business world-wide, the possibility of increasing the US share has attracted broad domestic support among companies and political leaders. A bill aimed at increasing the competitiveness of US clean technology industries was recently introduced by Democrat representatives, contemplating the creation of a US$ 15 million fund to provide assistance on export-related issues for such industries. The fund would be administrated by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.