06 Dec 2016 News Green economy

Focus turns to environmental goods for Least Developed Countries at WTO

Geneva, 29 November 2016 - UN Environment's Environment and Trade Hub held a discussion with member states of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group, an official negotiating coalition of the World Trade Organization, on the “The Impact of the Environmental Goods Agreement on LDCs”. The meeting, organized by Henry-Claude Fleur, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Haiti in Geneva and WTO Least Developed Countries Group representative, focused on the relationships between Least Developed Countries and the production and trade of environmental goods, namely products that generate renewable energy, manage waste, clean water and air, control air pollution and contribute to energy efficiency. The Environmental Goods Agreement, currently under negotiation, aims to liberalize trade in green goods like energy-efficient air conditioners and LED light bulbs.

The meeting included representatives from many Least Developed Countries including Benin Republic, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Haiti, Laos Democratic People’s Republic, Lesotho, Myanmar, Senegal and Togo.

Anja von Moltke, Head of the UN Environment's Environment and Trade Unit delivered an introduction to the work of the Economics and Trade Hub, highlighting the demand-driven process used by the Hub for delivering advice, impact analysis and capacity building services to interested countries, including Least Developed Countries. Daniel Akinmade Emejulu, UN Environment Consultant, also presented findings to the group on the potential impacts of the Environmental Goods Agreement on Least Developed Countries.

Representatives from Benin Republic, WTO Development Division, Republic of Haiti and UN Environment at the World Trade Organization Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland 

Key messages presented during the meeting included:

  • Environmental goods trade and its associated value chains can play a key role in supporting Least Developed Countries' economies, but more action needs to be taken to harness full advantage of the opportunities present.
  • Least Developed Countries export roughly US$1 billion of environmental goods (about 0.5% of their total exports) and only one third of this export volume is destined for countries negotiating the Environmental Goods Agreement.
  • Least Developed Countries can also stimulate the growth of local exports and value-added trade through efforts to develop export capacity in environmental goods (including components of environmental goods). For example, Bangladesh, Senegal and Zambia are producers of ball-bearings, which are an important component of wind-turbines, an environmental good.
  • Capacity building and technical assistance can enable Least Developed Countries to overcome integration challenges and eventually enable participation in the Environment Goods Agreement regime.

During the discussions, the group expressed interest in collaborating with the Hub in order to gain additional policy advice as well as to facilitate the exchange of best practices to strengthen their capacity. The Environment and Trade Hub looks forward to working with Least Developed Countries and other countries in the future.

For more information on the work of the Environment and Trade Hub, click here