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British Official: Green Goods Tariffs Send Wrong Message

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The British Minister of State for Trade on Wednesday said that border tariffs on green goods will stifle climate negotiations and send the wrong message to emerging economies.

Gareth Thomas, Britain's minister of state for trade and development, described the proposed green tariffs or border adjustment mechanisms, which he said would be perceived as protectionist measures, as counter-productive.

"We don't support those," said Thomas. "Other countries would be tempted to respond in similar ways, and it would exacerbate (climate) negotiations that are going on."

Some developed countries at the ongoing Copenhagen climate change conference have suggested that tariffs would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions and prevent "unfair competition" with developing countries that can produce green technology more cheaply.

A US House legislation passed in June which is currently making its way through Congress would levy tariffs beginning in 2020 on environmental goods and services from countries that have not committed to controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

US President Barack Obama has voiced concerns over such measures but has not said whether he would veto the bill.

According to a World Bank study, the legislation could have far-reaching consequences for trade relations between developing and developed countries.

US policy-makers argued that tariffs would help jumpstart a profitable US domestic green industry. Currently, no country dominates the field.

But instead of tariffs, said Thomas, developed countries should pursue collaborative projects with emerging nations looking to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

Thomas earlier told a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva that scrapping tariffs for such green goods as solar-powered stoves, water-saving showers and wind turbine parts would encourage the widespread use of environmentally-friendly low-carbon products.

At present, applied tariffs on these products can be as high as 27 percent.

(Xinhua News Agency December 10, 2009)

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