UPDATE 2-Major trade powers pledge free trade in green goods

Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:49pm EST
 
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By Paul Taylor

DAVOS, Switzerland Jan 24 (Reuters) - The world's biggest trading powers pledged on Friday to work toward a global agreement on free trade in environmental goods, but they gave no timeline for talks intended to support the fight against climate change.

The United States, European Union, China, Japan and several other developed economies said in a joint statement that the agreement would take effect once there is participation by a critical mass of members of the World Trade Organization.

That gets around the WTO's requirement for unanimity on trade deals. The initiative is in line with new WTO chief Roberto Azevedo's drive to break a decade-old deadlock in world trade negotiations by first tackling the most promising areas for agreement.

Last month, the WTO reached its first trade reform agreement at talks in Bali, potentially adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy.

The WTO estimates that the global market in green goods, technologies and services - ranging from solar panels to wind turbines and water recycling plants - at some $1.4 trillion.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman put the value at $1 trillion, noting that the signatories of the initiative jointly represented 86 percent of world trade.

"We announce our commitment to achieve global free trade in environmental goods and pledge to work together, and with other WTO members similarly committed to liberalisation, to begin preparing for negotiations in order to advance this shared goal," the statement said.   Continued...