The European Commission took part in the last round of negotiations in 2015 for an Environmental Goods Agreement. This plurilateral trade agreement aims at removing tariffs on several hundreds of products. Should the plurilateral talks result in EGA, the products under discussion would be ultimately subject to 0% import-export duty among 17 countries, including EU, US China and Japan. However, important trade partners such as Russia and Brazil are not taking part in the discussions.
On 1 February Cerame-Unie attended the Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) stakeholder meeting that reported on state of play of EGA negotiations. Negotiating parties reduced the number of products considered “environmental goods” under a potential EGA from 650 to 240. The EC confirmed that the EGA negotiations will continue throughout 2016.
The EC issued a progress report on the EGA negotiations during the Nairobi negotiations round in mid-December 2015. The report looks at a variety of products and their socio-economic and environmental impact should tariffs be removed. However, the report does not evaluate all 240 products currently under negotiation; the EC will do so once the final number of products is established. At the stakeholder meeting the EC clarified that the scope of products included in EGA are technologies that can have an immediate impact on the environment and cited the example of ceramic catalytic converters for automotive vehicles.
Regarding standardisation, the ambition is to address this issue in the later stages of this “living agreement”. As for technical barriers, these will also be addressed once the EGA is concluded on tariffs. A rapid conclusion in the near future remains uncertain taking into consideration a change in administration in the US and new priorities that may arise between the negotiating partners.
The next negotiations round will be in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2016. The next round will not be the last and the industry will continue providing feedback to the European Commission.