The 21 APEC member economies are breaking new ground in efforts to unlock trade and investment in services needed to improve environmental protection and capitalize on growth opportunities within the sector.

Trade officials from the region convening in Lima through this week have launched a multi-year Environmental Services Action Plan. The initiative will facilitate the lowering of associated regulatory and trade policy barriers in APEC economies, with implications for industries ranging from water and waste management to recycling and renewable energy development.

“APEC has led the way in reducing tariffs on environmental goods and is now building on this work by creating enabling conditions for services providers that employ green technologies and approaches,” explained Marie Sherylyn D. Aquia, Chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, which is the coordinating body for these parallel endeavors.

The total market for environmental goods and services is expected to double to USD2 trillion within five years, fueled by increasing global energy consumption, demand for greater efficiency and environmental regulation.

“There are significant opportunities for the growth and development of services that support environmental protection and sustainable economies but tapping them can be a challenge,” noted Aquia. “APEC is working to strengthen public sector understanding of the market hurdles businesses within the sector face and promote action to address them.”

The Environmental Services Action Plan will be implemented over the next four years to build the technical bandwidth of APEC economies to adopt efficient regulation and trade promotion policies in environmental services.

The initiative’s preliminary emphasis will be on gathering critical information on services regulation and trade policy in APEC economies. This includes measures affecting cross-border supply, governance of commercial ownership, licensing, people movement, preferential liberalization and regulatory regimes.

The first phase of the implementation of the Environmental Services Action Plan will also involve a study on the regulatory and trade promotion policies of APEC economies in environmental services.

“The progress of governments to reduce existing barriers and refrain from introducing new barriers to trade and investment in environmental goods and services will have a big impact on their dissemination and use and provide substantial benefits to green growth,” Aquia concluded.