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GE Pushes for Multilateral Free Trade on Cleantech

GEwindturbinesGeneral Electric Co. (GE) says a trade deal in environmental goods and services, separate from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round of talks to open up world trade, is needed to help global efforts address climate change, reports Reuters.

GE, the world’s biggest maker of electric turbines and jet engines, cited difficulties of reconciling environment and energy policy with trade rules at a recent energy conference at the WTO, reports Reuters.

One model suggested is an agreement on information technology, negotiated by a group of WTO members to eliminate duties on a range of high-tech products to drive technological development.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said in the article that international agreements to curb greenhouse gas emissions need not conflict with trade rules.

But trade experts disagree stating there are plenty of legal gray areas that could raise trade disputes as a result of the application of emission reductions, reports Reuters.

GE cites high tariffs as one of the biggest issues, particularly for wind turbines, which are subject to an average tariff of 7.5 percent around the world, ranging from 14 percent in Brazil, 8 percent in China to 2.7 percent in the EU and 1.3 percent in the United States, reports Reuters.

GE’s senior counsel for intellectual property and trade, Thaddeus Burns, told Reuters that an agreement that cuts and rationalizes these tariffs would promote green technology.

Green technology producers also face non-tariff barriers such as regulatory red-tape and standards that block their sales, particularly since much of the energy infrastructure is bought by governments, reports Reuters.

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