Several important WTO members including the USA, Japan, the European Union and China today announced a new initiative for negotiations on the reduction of barriers to trade in environmental goods on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel said: "We aim to foster environmental and climate protection worldwide and to bring economic interests in line with ecological needs. The initiative for the promotion of trade in environmental goods can significantly help us to achieve our environmental and climate targets. In this context, it is important that as many countries as possible participate in the initiative. This would also provide a major stimulus to further progress in the Doha Round. We aim at an agreement that reduces barriers to trade in environmental goods for all. This is also in the interest of German companies since many German firms are global market leaders with their innovative environmental products. By strengthening this sector, we also strengthen growth and employment in Germany and contribute to a sustainable economic policy."

The aim is to conclude an agreement pursuant to which tariffs for numerous environmental products will be reduced to five percent or less by 2015. A list of 54 environmental goods (e.g. water filtering or purifying machinery and components for wind turbines) adopted by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is the basis for the negotiations.

China is also participating in the initiative. This means that the plurilateral agreement covers about 90 percent of the global trade volume. All WTO members will thus benefit from the agreement on tariff reductions that will be reached by the negotiating partners.