Despite ongoing solar industry trade disputes involving China, a group of 22 Asia-Pacific nations has agreed to reduce import duties for green technologies that grow their economies without hurting the environment starting in 2015, reports The New York Times.
The agreement by the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum sets import duties of 5% or less for 54 technology categories including solar, wind and biomass generation technology, wastewater treatment, recycling and environmental monitoring systems.
The deal delivers on a commitment made during the APEC meeting last year in Honolulu and sets the stage for a broad regional free-trade zone called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“This is really a significant achievement, in that it shows how APEC can lead,” Demetrios Marantis, the deputy US trade representative, told the NYT. “It allows us to accomplish the twin goals of liberalizing trade and green growth.”
With more than 40% of the world’s population, the APEC countries represent a rich economic opportunity — exports to the countries within the group are expected to nearly triple to $14.6 trillion, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers data.
While the lower duties are welcome, the group still has to tackle the local-content requirements that limit imports into some APEC nations. That issue is on its meeting agenda for 2013.
Tensions are also still high between China and both the US and the European Union (EU) amid ongoing solar and wind trade disputes.
In the US, Chinese solar panel imports are subject to import duties of 31% to 250%; the US is also imposing tariffs of 14% and higher on towers for wind turbines.
China has launched its own investigations in retaliation, challenging state subsidies, but there has been no specific outcome yet.
Talks aimed at settling a similar solar technology trade dispute between the EU and China are going.
Nine of the countries involved in the APEC forum are part of the broader Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to create a free-trade zone that has been described as akin to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Those nations include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Canada and Mexico are due to join the group in October. Neither China nor Russia is not part of the group.
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