Today, @RepDelBene @RepJimmyPanetta @RepDonBeyer @RepTerriSewell @RepRonKind called on the Biden Admin. to restart talks on the Environmental Goods Agreement. This is a great idea!
For those interested, here’s a history of the EGA up to now. A thread 1/…
EGA talks began in 2014 and resemble the ITA expansion talks concluded in 2015. That agreement liberalized trade in all kinds of information technology goods that are the building blocks of the digital economy. The EGA can do the same for green goods. 2/…
Making products like solar panels and wind turbines cheaper would be super helpful in the fight against climate. AND an EGA would do that without actually any money. It’s basically a tax cut on goods with social benefits. A pro-environment tax cut- what’s not to like? 3/
Like the ITA, the EGA is sectoral, i.e. focused on reducing tariffs only on green goods like solar panels and wind turbines. It is an open plurilateral with a critical mass target of 90% and focused solely on tariffs rather than nontariff barriers, just like the ITA expansion. 4/
Just as APEC played a big role in facilitating progress in the ITA expansion negotiations, APEC also spurred progress on an EGA; APEC members agreed to lower tariffs on environmental goods which could make it easier for them to accept further liberalization in these goods. 5/
Another similarity between the two is that some of the key issues involved whether certain goods were truly relevant to the sector being discussed, what goods would be included or not on the tariff-cut list, and how long tariff phase-outs would be. 6/
For example, the EU and China disagreed on bicycles. China argued bikes should be in because they take cars off the road. EU argued that once you account for transportation costs, they may not be genuinely green. The EU was probably just trying to protect domestic bike makers. 7/
The EGA negotiating parties included the US, the EU, China, and 14 other mostly developed states. They seemed to be making progress throughout 2014 and 2015. By November 2015, most of the participants had found broad agreement on a list of approximately 350–375 items. 8/
As in the ITA, China wanted a much narrower list of goods on which to have tariffs cut, but negotiators believed that they could reach a deal by the end of 2016. At the G20 meeting in China in September 2016, the negotiating partners said they had arrived at a ‘landing zone’. 9/
This suggested that they had reached an agreement in principle and implied that they would be able to announce a completed deal at a ministerial meeting scheduled for December 2016. Then Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. 10/
After that, Chinese negotiators became less engaged. At the ministerial, hours before the press conference announcing a completed deal, China proposed a list nowhere close to what others wanted and was actually less ambitious than the APEC list it had agreed to years earlier. 11/
Between the uncompromising nature of the list and its timing, it was clear to many that China believed the Obama Admin. would be so eager to complete a deal before their time in office ended that they would accept China’s new more hardline demands. They miscalculated. 12/
The other parties walked away from the negotiations with the US, the EU, and global industry blaming China for the failed negotiations. The EGA has been stuck ever since. The Trump admin hated trade and the environment so they had no interest whatsoever. 13/
Where the EGA negotiations go from here is anyone’s guess. China may return to the table with a product list that is more acceptable to the other parties. They may use the broader trade war as a reason to not re-engage in talks at all. 14/
As with the EU/China row over bicycles, the U.S. and China have disagreed strongly on high-tech batteries; even with the best of intentions the parties may not be able to settle their differences over these items. 15/
The long-stalled negotiations over an agreement to reduce or better still eliminate subsidies for illegal and unregulated fishing/overfishing (again in part because of China) do not inspire much confidence here. 16/…
Developing countries have not participated much in the EGA talks so far. They have concerns. Moreover, South Africa and India recently stated their objection to the plurilateral format despite everyone else seeing that structure as most promising. 17/…
Regardless of the broader international political context, the successful ITA expansion suggests that keeping the EGA away from non-tariff barriers and especially regulatory differences, having it be a critical mass agreement, employing phase-outs……. 18/
and minimizing the extent to which nationalistic concerns about relative gains become a major sticking point, will all be crucial to liberalizing trade in environmental goods. It helps that some of the otherwise anti-trade Democrats may be ok with an EGA. 19/
Anyway, let’s hope this works! An EGA would be helpful in the fight against climate change, good for the WTO, a nice complement to rejoining the Paris Agreement, and salubrious for broader international cooperation at the trade/environment nexus. End/
Addendum: if you're interested in where things stand on the trade/environment nexus from an international law perspective, there's a terrific thread here by @VidigalGeraldo (and please see #9 in that thread!!!)

@PCGTW I get that your organization is trade-skeptic, but how do you feel about an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA)? If you support it, that would be really helpful to its passage.

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More from @GaryWinslett

28 Mar
If there is anything that is common across the political spectrum in the U.S. these days, it’s China-alarmism married to an instinct to use unilateral trade retaliation as a cudgel response. That’s wrong. Everyone is over-reacting. A thread 1/
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28 Feb
The US and EU should allow the WTO to grant a modified TRIPS waiver for COVID-vaccines. That would be good for developing countries, the WTO, the Biden Admin, even for pharma companies. Here's why. A thread on trade, intellectual property, and vaccines. 1/
This isn’t coming from a pharma or WTO opponent. I like the WTO and I like @PhRMA. I also like and respect access to medicine advocates like @jamie_love. There doesn’t have to be a zero-sum relationship between them over COVID vaccines. 2/
The WTO, created in the 90s, came with TRIPS, a set of rules which aimed to help IP-intensive firms enforce their IP rights. This was one of the Global North’s core asks. In exchange, the Global South got liberalization in agriculture and textiles. 3/
Read 39 tweets

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