WTO members make progress but fail to reach consensus on EGA

GENEVA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) — Eighteen World Trade Organization (WTO) members made progress but failed to close the existing gaps to reach a consensus on a trade facilitation agreement concerning environmentally-related products, according to a WTO statement published on Sunday.

WTO noted that constructive talks were held and progress was made during the just-concluded ministerial meeting on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), held Saturday and Sunday at WTO’s headquarter in Geneva.

“Participants negotiated in good faith and made good progress towards an agreement. I believe that the knowledge and understanding gained in these discussions will help us to move forward in the near future,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo.

However, he urged “participants to show whatever flexibility they can to help conclude the deal.”

Azevedo stressed that “the trading system should be in a position to make a positive and meaningful contribution towards tackling environmental degradation… building on recent achievements such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.”

As co-chairs of this weekend’s EGA ministerial meeting, the United States and the European Union said in a statement that they believe a high standard EGA would “enhance global access to clean technologies; advance environmental protection; and benefits workers, business and consumers.”

The 18 participants, including China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and Korea, account for most of the global trade in environmental goods. Since January 2014, they have been engaged in negotiations to slash duties on products used in a variety of environmentally-related functions including: generating clean and renewable energy; improving energy and resource efficiency; reducing air, water and soil pollution; managing solid and hazardous waste; noise abatement; and monitoring environmental quality.

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