Wyden: Green Goods Trade Vastly Overestimated

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Senator Urges USTR to Hone Reporting Standards to Improve Negotiations
By Senator Ron Wyden

Washington, D.C. – Continuing his drive to make exports of environmentally friendly goods a spark that will ignite America’s economic recovery, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today released a follow-up report to his December 2009 trade report entitled, “Major Opportunities and Challenges to U.S. Exports of Environmental Goods,” which looked at the benefits of lowering overseas tariffs to green products produced by American companies. Today’s follow-up report is the first of its kind, offering a new approach to measuring U.S. trade in environmental goods. The more accurate measurements used in the report show that U.S. trade in green goods has been vastly overstated due to a lack of clear definitions of what qualifies a product to be labeled “environmental goods.”

“America is going to have to expand exports to put our economy on more solid ground, but a huge first step is having an honest assessment of where the holes in our trade strategy are,” said Wyden. “The information laid out in this report will help USTR and other trade negotiators do a better job for America’s producers of green goods – and the people who are counting on the jobs those businesses will create. As the USTR works to secure a multilateral agreement on environmental goods, I urge it to make sure the agreement’s scope is limited to goods that truly serve an environmental purpose.”

Currently, the World Bank has identified 43 products as broadly being “climate friendly,” (the WB 43), but accurate data on such trade are generally unavailable because these goods are classified along with other, non-environmental goods, within the same broader product categories of WB 43 definition. Since the WB 43 has been seen as the basis for international trade negotiations to reduce or eliminate trade barriers to environmental goods, trade negotiators may be working with imprecise information, putting them at a disadvantage. Wyden’s report recommends that “the Office of the USTR should continue its recent work with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce to develop a better definition of and better data on U.S. trade of environmental goods” in their efforts to liberalize trade in green goods.

A copy of the report released today can be found at: http://wyden.senate.gov/download/?id=b2191551-7ee7-4408-923f-68a8beac105a

The report released in December 2009 can be found at: http://wyden.senate.gov/download/?id=d0258eb6-c9f7-477c-af58-012b23b4574c