ACCTS negotiating rounds

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Round Nine

Round Nine of Negotiations of The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) occurred from 28 April to 2 June 2022.

Key Working Group Progress in Brief

The Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group:

  • The Working Group continued its discussions regarding definitions and the scope of the Fossil Fuel Subsidies Chapter, based around the draft Chair’s Text. 
  • Participants have also begun discussions around the core prohibitions. Ensuring development considerations are appropriately reflected are also a feature of these discussions.
  • The OECD and IEA were also invited to present to the group, to assist what are often technically challenging discussions.

The Environmental Goods Working Group:

  • Important progress has been made with the Environmental Goods short list. The Working Group look to expand this in coming negotiations.
  • The Chapter Text continues to develop.

The Environmental Services Working Group:

  • Significant progress has been made in the Environmental Service Working Group as participants undertook an initial line-by-line analysis of a range of services sectors, with a view towards classifying and developing a list of environmental and environmentally-related services.
  • In addition to the list-based discussion, participants are also continuing discussions to develop a common criteria for further identifying environmentally credible services continue
  • Preliminary views on market access were also exchanged, in addition to further discussions on progressing the services chapter text. 

The Eco-Labelling Working Group:

  • The chapter text was advanced this round through additional attributions and wording proposals. The text of the principles-based guidelines made good progress. 
  • A bespoke working group session was held to discuss the chapter’s potential institutional mechanisms, including the potential scope and role of National Contact Points.
  • Discussions continue around issues relating to the appropriate Scope and Coverage for the chapter.

The Legal and Institutional Working Group:

  • Good progress was made in relation to the Institutional Provisions, particularly in respect of the functions and powers of the Joint Commission.
  • Participants also made progress in the Initial and Final Provisions chapters, especially in relation to provisions on transparency and confidentiality.
  • Dispute Settlement provisions were also discussed, in particular the provisions on panel hearing procedures. Finally, the Working Group agreed on cross-cutting guidance to other chapters.

Round Eight

Round Eight of Negotiations of The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) occurred from 22 February to 31 March 2022.

Key Working Group Progress in Brief

The Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group:

  • Continued to discuss definitions and scope of the chapter, and also discussed the closely related articles on proposed prohibitions.   

The Environmental Goods Working Group:

  • Positive progress has was made on the chapter text.
  • Discussions continued on tariff liberalisation commitments and potential modalities.

The Environmental Services Working Group:

  • Proposals to develop a criteria to identify environmentally credible services was discussed by participants.
  • Participants agreed to develop a draft environmental services list, drawing on several of the environmental criteria proposals, with a view towards discussing at the next round

The Eco-Labelling Working Group:

  • Constructive progress continues to be made on the chapter text. Participants noted that it was desirable for the text to be as clearly and as simply worded as possible. Discussions on scope and coverage continue as a focus of the Group.  At the next round, a dedicated working group session will be held to consider and progress draft text in relation to this pillar’s potential institutional mechanisms.

The Legal and Institutional Working Group:

  • Continued discussions on draft text, with particular progress made on the Institutional Provisions and Dispute Settlement chapters this round.
  • Participants who had prepared draft text also had the opportunity to explain the new provisions and participants discussed these proposals.

Round Seven

Round Seven of Negotiations of The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) occurred from 9 November to 7 December 2021.

The Round was streamlined to reflect competing resources pressures from FTA negotiations and the (ultimately postponed) WTO Twelfth Ministerial Conference.

Key Working Group Progress in Brief

The Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group:

  • Continued to grapple with definitions and scope of the chapter.
  • Participants noted the importance of clear language that adequately connects the definition of a subsidy to the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

The Environmental Goods Working Group:

  • Covered tariff liberalisation commitments and potential flexible modalities. This included considering flexibilities regarding the scope and timeframes for liberalising some environmental goods.
  • Continued to expand the consensus short list of environmental goods for the liberalisation of tariffs.

The Environmental Services Working Group:

  • Considered three proposals on developing a list of criteria to identify environmentally credible services.
  • The chapter text is well developed, drawing on precedent from the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The Eco-Labelling Working Group:

  • Made constructive text-based progress. The group focused on attributions and wording proposals for the principle-based guidelines.

The Legal and Institutional Working Group:

  • Expanded discussions on draft text, with further discussions to be pursued intersessionally and at the next round.

Round Six

The Sixth Round of Negotiations of The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) occurred over four weeks from August to September 2021.

Key Working Group Progress in Brief

The Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group:

  • Continued developing legally binding disciplines to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies at entry into force, transitional disciplines for the gradual phase out of broader fossil fuel subsidy programmes and transparency provisions to apply to broader support measures.
  • Considered definitions of fossil fuel subsidies.

The Environmental Goods Working Group:

  • Continued to expand the consensus list of environmental goods for tariff liberalisation.
  • The Group also discussed text.

The Environmental Services Working Group:

  • Continued developing criteria for the environmental services list and agreed to discuss further how the criteria would be reflected in the agreement text.
  • Discussed draft text and consolidated the participating countries’ comments.

The Eco-labelling Working Group:

  • Focused on draft text.
  • Advanced consensus in the substance of the draft guidelines for eco-labelling programmes, with wording attributions and proposals made.
  • Discussed the appropriate scope and coverage of eco-labelling guidelines.

The Legal and Institutional Working Group:

  • Finalised the Drafting Guidelines and Guidance to Working Groups on Cross-cutting issues. These documents will provide guidance to working groups on clear drafting, and will ensure a consistent approach to the structure of the Agreement.

Round Five

The Fifth Round of Negotiations of The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) occurred virtually over four weeks in May – June 2021.

The five Working Groups had useful and substantive discussions, including a productive first meeting of the Legal and Institutional Working Group.

Key Working Group Progress in Brief

The Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group:

  • Focused on the scope and definitions of key terms such as “fossil fuel” and “subsidy”.
  • Discussed categorisation approaches to discipline harmful fossil fuel subsidies under the ACCTS. They determined that further discussion is necessary on the treatment of secondary fuels and subsidies for non-energy purposes.

The Environmental Goods Working Group:

  • Continued to expand the consensus short list of environmental goods for the liberalisation of tariffs.
  • Discussed the chapter text, with the understanding it would be further considered in Round Six.

The Environmental Services Working Group:

  • Considered draft text based on relevant WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) provisions.
  • Discussed dual-use issues from the current classification of services sectors, scope of the disciplines, and definitions of key terms.
  • Developed criteria to determine what constitutes an “environmental service” in order to aid the Working Group to develop a list of environmental services.

The Eco-labelling Working Group:

  • Discussed aims, scope, and draft text of the principles-based guidelines and institutional mechanisms.
  • Focused on the design of voluntary guidelines for the development and implementation of voluntary eco-labelling programmes supported by institutional mechanisms.

The Legal and Institutional Working Group:

  • Met for their inaugural meeting.
  • Focused on the structure of the Group’s work programme, including chapter content and the addressing of legal questions from working groups.

Round Four

The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) met virtually for the fourth round of negotiations from 2 - 26 March 2021. 

Key Working Group Progress in Brief

The Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group:

  • Continued work to develop disciplines to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies. 
  • Considered the advantages and disadvantages of approaches to the scope and definitions of fossil fuel subsidies and mechanisms to address these.

The Environmental Goods Working Group:

  • Focused on chapter text options and development of the environmental goods lists of nominations.
  • Continued to build on the consensus list of environmental goods. Existing work on environmental good informed nominations, including the list of 54 environmental goods agreed by APEC and work done under the (stalled) WTO Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations.

In the Environmental Services Working Group:

  • Agreed to develop a clear methodology and criteria to underpin an environmental services list and agreed a future list should provide legal certainty and predictability.

The Eco-labelling Working Group:

  • Discussed textual options, scope and definitions, and the principles-based guidelines and supporting institutional mechanisms. 

What happens next?

Round Eight of negotiations of the ACCTS us scheduled to occur virtually between 22 February and 31 March 2022. 

Where can I find out more?

Find out more about our overall objectives for this agreement, including information on the four key pillars of the agreement being negotiated at the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) negotiations page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Have your say

We continue to welcome feedback and engagement on the ACCTS negotiations – please contact us at: tradeforall@mfat.govt.nz or FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz

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