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Tariffs on Pollution-Control Goods Eyed for Cuts at Asian Summit

U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk
U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk called the tentative agreement on tariff cuts at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit "an historic agreement." Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Representatives at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Russia reached tentative agreement on a list of environmental products that will be subject to tariff cuts in a first-of-its kind accord for such goods.

Equipment used to treat wastewater, control air pollution and monitor the environment are among the good slated for tariff reductions to 5 percent or less by 2015, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

“This is an historic achievement,” U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk said in a statement. The U.S. exports to the region more than $1 billion in environmental goods that are subject to tariffs higher than 5 percent, he said.

The agreement will be considered by leaders of the 21 APEC nations including the U.S., China and Japan, when they gather Sept. 8-9 at the summit in Vladivostok, Russia, following ministerial meetings earlier in the week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend in place of President Barack Obama, who accepted his party’s nomination for a second term last night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A dispute over government support for renewable-energy products such as wind and solar gear has caused tension between the U.S. and China this year.

TPP Talks

Trade ministers from Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S. also met in Vladivostok to discuss progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade pact the nations are negotiating. Deputy U.S. Trade Ambassador Demetrios Marantis attended in place of Kirk, who was at the Democratic convention.

USTR officials have said the Pacific accord will address issues including the environment and protection from government competition for businesses, as well as traditional subjects such as agriculture.

A round of talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is now under way through Sept. 15 in Leesburg, Virginia.

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