Trade Rep Requests Study of Enviro Goods Tariffs

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. trade represenative has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to assess the impact of eliminating nearly 400 tariff lines for environmental goods, including highly toxic alcohols, cruise ships, nuclear reactor parts and other toxic compounds.
     Ambassador Michael Froman requested a report from U.S. International Trade Commission chairman Meredith Broadbent on the potential economic impact of removing tariffs on additional commodities related to the Environmental Goods Agreement.
     Negotiations on the agreement between the U.S. and 13 World Trade Organization member states kicked off in July 2014 and could boost U.S. exports of environmental goods, support U.S. jobs and help WTO members cope with “a wide array of environmental challenges,” Froman wrote in the letter received last Friday.
     In 2014 Froman requested and received two reports from the ITC about the environmental goods trade, including a provisional list of environmental products related to the agreement. Since then, “a range of additional potential products have come to our attention,” Froman wrote.
     The bulk of the 23-page letter outlines the items to be reviewed, including machinery, motorcycles, engines and freight cars. The list also contains some highly toxic compounds, including lead waste and scraps among other toxic and precious-metal waste, and plastic waste.
     Also on the list are insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, paints and varnishes, and methanol and ethylene glycol – both highly toxic alcohols, the latter most commonly found in radiator fluid, according to the website Medscape.
     Most of the items on the list were proposed by other nations taking part in the trade negotiations and their inclusion doesn’t indicate U.S. support for tariff waivers.
     When finished, parts of the report that deal with the ITC’s advice on the items listed in the letter will be confidential for 10 years as requested by Froman, commission public affairs officer Peg O’Laughlin said in an email.
     “Consistent with this executive order, this information will be classified on the basis that it concerns economic matters relating to the national security of the United States,” Froman said in his letter, adding that he wants the report by early December.
     Froman did not respond to request for comment. The ITC said in an email that it does not discuss ongoing investigations, but will issue a press release when the investigation begins.

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