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World's major trade powers pledge free trade in environmental goods.

The world's biggest trading powers committed on Thursday to achieving global free trade in environmental goods, though they gave no timeline for a deal they said would boost the fight against climate change.

A joint statement by the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and several other developed economies said the agreement would take effect once a critical mass of members of the World Trade Organisation participate.

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 tackling the most promising areas for agreement first.

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.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman put the value at $1 trillion, noting that the signatories of the initiative jointly represented 86 per cent 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.

"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."

But it mentioned no date for an agreement and Froman said: "Ultimately the timetable will be determined by the negotiations themselves."

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jan 24, 2014
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