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India & China seek Green Tech transfer surety for duty cuts

The firm stand taken by India on technology trasfer at the WTO is in sync with it's position on the issue in the climate change negotiations.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 03, 2011, 04.13 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: India and China have said that developing countries will bring down duties on environmental goods-items that contribute to keep the earth green-only if developed countries agree to transfer technology and sponsor technical and financial assistance programmes.

"Implementation by developing country and LDC members of their commitments under the environmental goods and services framework should be linked to effective technology transfer and assistance to them," the two countries said in a joint statement of the committee on trade and environment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

An agreement on trade in environmental goods and services or EGS is part of the on-going Doha round of the WTO and seeks to bring down duties on environment friendly products. At present, there is no agreement on the definition of environmental goods and the scope of goods to be liberalised.

"The idea behind this paper I think is to emphasise that it is not only important to talk about approaches, but also to understand that transfer of technology is an integral part of the talks," said Anuradha RV a lawyer specialising in trade policy from Clarus Law Associates. Since technology will be expensive, there should also be a mechanisim for financing it, she added.

The Indian industry, too, firmly backs the view that technology transfer and adequate financing should be the backbone of the talks on environmental goods and services. "An exclusive or skewed focus on trade liberalisation aspects of environmental goods may lead to a situation where developing countries would find it extremely tough to build their own industry in this area," said R V Kanoria, Senior Vice President, Ficci. As a result of tariff liberalisation on environmental goods, countries like India may end up becoming and remaining 'technology dependent' if no supplementary measures for cost-effective technology transfer, development and related funding are put in place, he said.

"Developing countries should definitely get the know-how to manufacture environmental goods or the benefits from an agreement on environmental goods and services would only accrue to developed countries," said Abhijit Das from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.

The firm stand taken by India on technology transfer at the WTO is in sync with it's position on the issue in the climate change negotiations. "In the EGS negotiations we are talking about limited issues compared to the climate change talks, but broadly the approach is the same," a commerce department official told ET.

In view of the fact that most ESTs are in the hands of private entities, innovative ways in which effective implementation of transfer of technology can occur would need to be explored and implemented, the submission said. In the on-going negotiations, the focus on the development dimension has been highly limited, the paper pointed out.

The thrust of the discussions has been primarily on trade in goods, or the "list" approach which solely focusses on trade in goods, and is silent on environmental services. India had proposed an alternative in the form of the project approach where government's could approve particular projects, but it was rejected by developed countries on the ground that it would promote red-tapism.
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