Joint Statement: Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) at MC12

Trade and Export Growth

We, the Ministers for trade from Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, welcome the meeting of Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) partners on 15 June 2022, in Geneva to discuss progress on negotiations for the ACCTS. Our meeting was chaired by Hon Damien O’Connor, New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth.

We recall our earlier statements from Paris (6 October 2021), and Davos (24 January 2020) as well as the Joint Leaders’ Statement  launching the ACCTS initiative in September 2019 in New York, and those issued by Climate Ministers in Spain (10 December 2019) and in Glasgow (12 November 2021)in support of the negotiations.

We, as the ACCTS Trade Ministers, reiterate that urgent action is required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.  We are committed to realising the ACCTS ambition to deliver trade policy and trade rules that make a meaningful contribution to addressing climate change.   In doing so, we continue to recognise the particular vulnerability of Small Island Developing States to the impacts of climate change.

As we convene in Geneva, we are reminded of the importance of ACCTS to lead a path forward on important trade and environment issues for multilateral action.  While we are a small group now, our ambition is for the ACCTS to be a WTO-consistent pathfinder agreement that will drive momentum and be joined by other WTO Members.  We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress at relevant WTO meetings.

We are pleased to note that good progress has been made in expanding the prospective list of environmental goods for tariff elimination, and we look forward to substantively increasing this list in the months ahead.  The removal of tariffs on environmental goods can help ensure that these products and technologies are incentivised as part of green economic recovery initiatives. 

Significant progress is being made in the environmental services working group to classify and develop an environmentally ambitious list of environmental and environmentally-related services. This is based on a broad view of how services can contribute to addressing pressing environmental challenges, and thus also contribute to sustainable development.  We look forward to progressing discussions this year and to making commitments that facilitate access and create certainty for service suppliers to support environmental outcomes and sustainable development.    

We also look forward to finalising the principles-based guidelines for voluntary eco-labelling programmes.  We expect these guidelines, alongside institutional mechanisms to support their implementation, will provide a useful tool to help ensure that eco-labels are able to best achieve their environmental purposes, while avoiding the inadvertent creation of barriers to trade. 

Finally, we continue to advance disciplines to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies.  Globally, rising fossil fuel prices demonstrate that we must urgently accelerate the transition towards clean, green energy systems.  It is a crucial moment of both risk and opportunity, with the case to reform fossil fuel subsidies more relevant than ever.  We call on negotiators to accelerate this critical, complex and unprecedented work.

The ACCTS partners have completed nine virtual rounds of negotiation to date. Progress has been made across all pillars.  We remain committed to the conclusion of ACCTS negotiations as swiftly as possible.  The “real” work of the ACCTS initiative will then begin in earnest to increase the membership.