GENEVA (AP) — Diplomats from the United States, China and the European Union began negotiations Tuesday with 11 other members of the World Trade Organization toward a new deal that would cut tariffs on almost $1 trillion of environmental goods.

The proposed agreement at the Geneva-based organization would cover 86 percent of trade in environmental goods such as solar panels and gas and wind turbines for producing energy, filters and ultraviolet disinfection equipment for wastewater treatment and soot removers and catalytic converters for air pollution control. U.S. exports of environmental goods reached $106 billion last year, and have grown 8 percent a year since 2009.

The negotiations also include Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chinese Taipei. They are meant to build on a list of 54 environmental goods put together by members of APEC — the alliance known as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation for Pacific Rim economies — for which the governments hope to reduce tariffs to five percent or less by the end of 2015.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said a new agreement would eliminate tariffs of up to 35 percent on dozens of items and fulfill a key part of President Barack Obama's climate-change agenda.


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Though climate change isn't technically part of the WTO's work agenda, the organization considers itself relevant to the issue because of the way trade policies affect sustainable development, including the efficient allocation of natural resources that raise standards of living.

"By eliminating tariffs on the technologies we all need to protect our environment, we can make environmental goods cheaper and more accessible for everyone," Froman said.